Will Greece be the new European hotspot for Chinese tourists?

When our clients ask us how to influence Chinese tourists’ destination choice, we often recommend working with KOLs or Key Opinion Leaders. If they have bigger budgets, we suggest that they work with a celebrity ambassador. And sometimes we joke that, if they really want to put their destination on the map, perhaps they can persuade President Xi to come on a state visit.

This year, Greece did exactly that as the Chinese President touched down in Athens to discuss trade and investment with Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. 

Historically, destinations boom following a successful state visit. After President Xi drank a pint of beer with David Cameron in a British pub and had a selfie taken with Sergio Aguero at Manchester City in 2015, Chinese tourism to the UK really took off. We have seen state visits as a catalyst for tourism arrivals to many other countries too, such as Fiji and New Zealand in 2014. We can assume that the positive PR surrounding this visit to Greece, and the huge support for China-Greece relations expressed by Mitsotakis, will be well received in China, catapulting Greece into the consideration set for a summer holiday.

Once the keywords start being tapped into Mafengwo and Qyer, it won’t be long before aspirational Chinese FIT travellers realise that Greece has got it all.

From the ancient history of Athens, Olympia, and Delphi, to the stunning scenery of Meteora and the Mani to the crystal waters and sundrenched, whitewashed villages of the Greek islands, you have the perfect ingredients for a Chinese tourist’s dream; a multi-centre, experiential holiday, with history, beauty, and some very shareable back drops. Not to mention some of the most famous mythological stories and delicious dishes in Europe to feast upon.

But apart from the ensuing publicity generated by a state visit, improved air transport links are also a common result of such visits, and this one seems to be no different. 

The most important factor here is the opportunity presented by codesharing.  Greece has a unique geographical make up with a huge number of delightful islands, secondary towns and cities, and other areas of natural beauty and historical significance. In order to bring tourists and citizens to all corners of Greece, the country has a very large network of internal flights operated by Aegean Airlines. Once these domestic flights start to link up with international flights coming direct to Athens from Beijing (and potentially other airports in China), suddenly the whole of Greece becomes accessible to the Chinese tourist.  And that is what the two leaders’ Memorandum of Understanding will provide for. If all goes to plan, a codeshare agreement could be adopted between Air China and Aegean Airlines, meaning passengers from Beijing will be able to reach major Greek tourism destinations such as Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos, Corfu, and Halkidiki much more easily. 

The MOU will also allow for an increase in the number of flights between Greece and China. At present, there are only three direct flights per week from China into Athens, flying from Beijing on Air China, although up to 14 are permitted. Once the new agreement is implemented, airlines will be allowed to operate up to 35 flights per week. And, with the codeshares in place, there could be enough demand to justify the increases.

In the first nine months of 2018, Chinese arrivals to Greece grew by 22%, making China the fastest growing market for tourism to Greece. It is expected that similar growth will be seen once the summer figures emerge for 2019. Whilst reported numbers are still relatively small at around 200,000 per year, it is widely agreed that these figures are understated due to the large number of people entering Greece on a visa to another EU country as part of a multi-centre tour. 

The most famous island is the picturesque, romantic Santorini, widely photographed and admired by honeymooners and bloggers alike, but other islands such as nearby Mykonos and Greece’s largest island, Crete, are also popular and gaining traction on the major travel platforms and within itineraries. Of course, Athens and the wonderous Acropolis, will also feature on the itinerary. 

We expect to see a huge upturn in interest for Greece from China next year. Its popularity with honeymooners also provides an additional opportunity for Greece’s luxury resorts, as Chinese honeymooners are allowed to take a longer holiday, giving plenty of time to explore and stay. And the Chinese national holiday, Golden Week, in October also presents a great opportunity to extend the summer season, especially for those islands like Crete and Kos which remain sunny and warm well into mid-October. 

If you are interested in finding out how China Travel Outbound can help you promote your Greek region, resort, attraction or hotel to the Chinese, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. 

For more information about China Travel Outbound, please visit www.chinatraveloutbound.com or contact us.

If you enjoyed this article and want to find out more, be sure to check out some of our other related articles below:

Why are the Chinese going Nordic?

How to attract Chinese tourists to your destination

Selecting travel KOLS: How do we choose our bloggers?

Bob and Jonny’s culinary adventure with LNER

Chinese KOL standing with a chef

CTO has been hard at work organising an array of media trips for Chinese journalists, travel bloggers and online influencers. These trips deliver valuable promotion for our clients in some of the most powerful Chinese travel platforms, such as Mafengwo, Qyer and C Trip, and content is widely shared through social media channels such as WeChat and Weibo. This summer, we have explored a slightly different angle for LNER, to promote their exciting on-board menus and the gastronomic delights of London, York, Edinburgh and Moray Speyside in collaboration with popular Chinese ‘foodies’, Bob and Jonny.

Bob and Johnny on LNER train

Bob & Jonny are food, restaurant and hotel reviewers. They have profiles on most of the travel review sites and social media platforms in China and have more than 750,000 combined followers on WeChat and Weibo. With Jonny’s photographic skills and Bob’s in-depth culinary analysis, they are a perfect team, producing high quality, professional content and social posts. A positive review from these two would work wonders for a company investing in the Chinese market. Their target audience are young, middle class individuals who love travelling and trying diverse, international dishes.

KOL Bob visiting the UK

Starting from London, the two bloggers have made the journey all the way up to Scotland, frequently stopping at points of interest along the route and documenting their activities as they go. Some of their stops include: Bottomless brunches in London, Chocolate stories and fine dining in York, Distillery tours and whiskey sampling in Moray Speyside, wandering through the V&A museum in Dundee and returning to London for scrumptious afternoon tea at Royal Museums of Greenwich’s Cutty Sark, one of London’s top historic landmarks, and an educational insight into the Houses of Parliament.

Royal Museum Greenwich Cutty Sark

If you would like to find out more about reaching out to Chinese bloggers and influencers. Please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss this with you further.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out some of our related articles here:

Two Chinese KOLs travel the UK with London North Eastern Railway

London North Eastern Railway wins CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Award

Integrated Chinese trade and media campaign for London North Eastern Railway

*Images from Bob and Jonny’s Weibo account


Top 7 Apps Chinese Outbound Tourists Use Overseas – Part 2: Discovery

Chinese KOL visiting Brighton Pavilion

Chinese tourists don’t just use their smartphone apps to plan and book trips overseas, they also rely on these applications when they arrive at their destination. 85% of Chinese millennials use their mobile phone while travelling overseas to further research the destination’s best tourism hotspots, help make their travel experience in an unfamiliar destination more comfortable and convenient, and keep in touch with family and friends back home.

If you’re familiar with the China market, you may know that Facebook, Twitter, and even Google Maps are banned in China. China have their own alternative apps that functionally serve similar purposes, but have interesting and different features to their Western counterparts that help facilitate ease of travel for Chinese tourists in overseas destinations.

So, what are the top mobile apps Chinese tourists use when travelling overseas that we should be paying close attention to? And, most importantly, how do they help Chinese travellers? With the recent four-day Labour Day holiday expected to produce over 160 million Chinese travellers, we thought this to be the ideal time to explore this trend to highlight the importance of mobile apps in shaping the Chinese outbound travel experience.

In the second part of this series of articles, we explore the key apps Chinese tourists use to share travel recommendations with one another, both prior to a trip and once they have arrived, and the different kinds of recommendations they receive from Chinese and Western platforms.

If you haven’t done so already, read the first part here about the apps Chinese tourists use overseas to interact with and navigate around their destination of choice.

Chinese review sites – Mafengwo, Qyer, and Ctrip

Mafengwo logo

Before travelling overseas, Chinese tourists will research destinations, attractions restaurants, hotels and shops using China’s premier review site platforms – Mafengwo, Qyer and Ctrip. Similar to TripAdvisor, international destinations have pages on these sites that list in-depth travel information, rankings of popular sights and recommended itineraries for short and long stays.

Qyer logo

The three platforms mentioned above also showcase travelogues posted by influential Chinese Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs/bloggers). The majority of these blogs are focused on a specific destination and a specific theme, such as travelling from London to Scotland by rail, and they provide a personal and honest account of the KOLs’ travel experience. KOLs’ opinions are highly valued by Chinese tourists researching their next trip abroad – when a KOL validates their experiences, this shows they are equally suitable for any Chinese traveller.

Ctrip logo

Chinese travellers can also use these platforms casually to post updates about their overseas trip for their followers to see, and write reviews of points of interest they’ve visited. These platforms provide the Chinese perspective of overseas destinations and travel experiences, but they may want to find out what the locals think…

TripAdvisor – for local recommendations

tripadviosor logo

TripAdvisor is not blocked in China, and is a useful resource for Chinese travellers to get an idea of the local opinion of restaurants, hotels, shops and attractions they plan on visiting. Interestingly, TripAdvisor has a Chinese website which is near identical to the English version. On both versions, user reviews can be filtered by language to read comments left by travellers across the globe. By default, only reviews written in the website’s native language will appear, meaning if users wants a ‘global perspective’ of where they’re visiting, they’ll need to manually filter the reviews to show ‘All languages’.

User reviews of Brighton Pavilion on TripAdvisor.cn.com (left) and TripAdvisor.co.uk (right)

The different tastes and opinions of Chinese travellers to Western travellers are evident when review site platforms like TripAdvisor and China’s Mafengwo are compared. On TripAdvisor, Elephant House café in Edinburgh, where J.K. Rowling famously wrote the first Harry Potter book, is ranked around 1,400 of the 2,200 best places to eat in the city. However, as a result of the feverish popularity of Harry Potter in China, the café is the top rated restaurant in the city on Mafengwo, and the second top rated attraction.

Since Mafengwo, Qyer and Ctrip present a Chinese perspective of restaurants, shops and hotels, Chinese outbound travellers may use TripAdvisor to discover places unfamiliar to Chinese tourists, recommended by locals and other global tourists.

Little Red Book – Easy content sharing

red book logo

Xiaohongshu, or ‘Little Red Book’ in English, is an up-and-coming social media and content sharing platform encouraging users to share travel articles and reviews of popular products, and post short videos and photos of their travel experiences. Little Red Book has over 200 million registered users as of January 2019, and around 90% of its users are female.

Similar to Weibo, users can follower influencers whose recommendations they trust, and like Mafengwo and Qyer, content can be saved for future reference. Rather than letting users post anonymous reviews, the platform encourages users to post in-depth reviews including a combination of written content, videos and photos, which are known as ‘Notes’. Other users can comment on ‘Notes’ to exchange information and share their own tips. Chinese travellers may be inspired to visit places overseas based on content a Little Red Book influencer has posted, and being able to save posts means travellers can refer back to them once they’ve arrived.

In terms of providing travel recommendations, the platform is not yet as influential as Mafengwo, Weibo or WeChat as its content primarily focuses on luxury brands and shopping. However, it is rapidly growing in popularity and has the potential to become a influential source of travel tips for Chinese outbound travellers.

Dianping – The Chinese Yelp

dinning logo

If you’re wondering what the Chinese equivalent of Yelp is, that would be Dianping. This travel advice platform lists of shops, restaurants, pubs and bars, cinemas and other venues located in destinations both in China and abroad. Over 4.4 million merchants across nearly 200 countries are listed on Dianping, making it a useful travel resource similar to TripAdvisor. However, Chinese travellers will mainly use Dianping to narrow down popular dining choices. Dianping users can not only leave reviews, but they can filter restaurants by cuisine and popular food items, find out the average price per head, and view a score breakdown of restaurants’ ‘Taste’, ‘Environment’ and ‘Service’. Many commenters also post pictures of their bill to advise other users how much they should expect to spend.

Like TripAdvisor, the more reviews a user posts, the more they are valued by the community and begin to build an influence on the platform. A positive review of your restaurant by a highly regarded reviewer can be very valuable promotion in helping to attract more Chinese guests. 

While functionally similar to TripAdvisor, Dianping provides a more in-depth breakdown of a restaurant’s quality, and is another platform Chinese travellers can consult if they seek a different perspective of the restaurants, hotels and shops in their destination of choice.  

The world in your pocket

Whether Chinese travellers use mobile phone apps to research their destination before or during their trip, mobile apps have had a considerable influence in shaping the travel experience for Chinese outbound tourists. The destinations, attractions, shops and restaurants Chinese travellers visit, and hotels they stay at, are increasingly being dictated by their popularity on these platforms and positive reviews left by influential users. When a fellow Chinese traveller posts a positive comment about their trip overseas, this shows other Chinese tourists that they can also enjoy this experience and feel comfortable doing so.

If you are a destination, attraction, hotel, or restaurant looking to reach the China market, you will be invisible to the Chinese traveller unless you establish a presence on any of these platforms. We provide an online reputation management service to audit and improve your business’s online profiles in China, to ensure Chinese tourists are receiving the most accurate and up-to-date information about you. If you are interested in finding out more about this service, please feel free to contact us for a chat.

Enjoyed this article? Then these may also be of interest to you:

Top 7 Apps Chinese Outbound Tourists Use Overseas – Part 1: Getting Around

Explaining Chinese Payment Systems – What’s the fuss about?

Bon Voyage! Chinese tourists are setting sail

How do Chinese tourists choose their hotels?

Bon Voyage! Chinese tourists are setting sail

7 million Chinese tourists are estimated to be travelling abroad during the upcoming Chinese New Year, but who’s to say they will be travelling by plane? With the rapid growth of China’s FITs who seek fulfilling and authentic travel experiences, cruise trips are gradually becoming a popular way for Chinese tourists to see the big blue world. With China’s biggest holiday on the horizon, we thought this to be a great opportunity to analyse this trend, identifying the key cruise operators providing cruise trips for Chinese travellers, where Chinese tourists take cruises, and how to accommodate them on-board.

The market has potential

It’s an exciting time for China’s cruise industry – the country’s cruise liners are beginning to realise they need to go further afield to satisfy their customers. As the industry continues to develop, it is expected to become “the largest cruise market in the world.” This will depend on whether the industry can harness the huge potential of the Chinese travel market, who made an estimated 140 million overseas trips in 2018.

It is estimated that the capacity of China’s cruise lines will decline 4.4% in 2019. The two major reasons for this are the knock-on effect of 2017’s Chinese travel ban to South Korea, and the absence of routes with diverse destinations – the majority of cruises setting sail from China’s coasts stop off in South Korea and Japan, missing out exciting Southeast Asian destinations such as the Philippines and Vietnam. This is to say, despite the demand, cruises from China simply lack the variety of destinations enjoyed by cruise trips around Europe and North America.

In response, many companies are making considerable efforts to bring Chinese holidaymakers overseas to embark on their first cruise experience. Royal Caribbean Cruises was the top ranked brand in a ‘Best Experiences’ customer satisfaction survey, conducted by brand experience agency Jack Morton, where Chinese consumers were among the 6,000 surveyed. Furthermore, the brand is among the most popular in China’s cruise industry, and in 2019, they will launch their Spectrum of the Seas cruise line that aims to provide high-quality experiences “specifically tailored to Chinese guests.” The cruise line, which will sail from Barcelona to Shanghai across a 51-night voyage, will entertain over 4,200 guests with virtual reality experiences, luxury dining offering both Chinese and Western cuisines, and the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex ever to set sail. This level of commitment to the China market by such a major brand is testament to the huge potential of the China cruise market.

Costa Group Asia, a major cruise operator in Europe and Asia, will launch its first ship designed specifically for the Chinese market in 2019. The Costa Venezia aims to provide an immersive Italian experience for Chinese travellers and its 5,100 passengers with boutique shops selling goods from luxury Italian brands, a theatre evocative of Venice’s iconic Teatro La Fenice and an atrium inspired by St. Mark’s Square. The cruise will set sail on a 53-day voyage in March 2019 covering the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and East Asia.

Furthermore, Costa Cruises are evidently committed to improving their ‘China Welcome’. In 2018, the company partnered with football club Juventus to provide unique “football at sea” experiences especially for Chinese guests boarding its Costa Serena cruise liner. The experiences include the Juventus Museum decorated with trophies and club memorabilia, and a mini football academy for children to hone their skills. In addition, in 2017, Costa Serena was the first Costa Cruise to allow Chinese guests to pay using Alipay mobile payments.

Likewise, Princess Cruises, owned by the same corporation as the Costa Cruises Group, announced in December 2018 that it will introduce Alipay and WeChat Pay mobile payment systems on its North American cruises, being the first cruise liner to do this. Thus, if cruise companies want to welcome more Chinese travellers on-board, they need to show that they are making an effort to accommodate them. This is evidently paving way for competition between the major cruise companies who are acknowledging the potential of the China market and are targeting Chinese tourists with unique experiences offered only by their cruises.

Indeed, exciting, one-of-a-kind experiences like these are exactly what travel and culture hungry Chinese tourists are looking for, and could go a long way to bringing Chinese tourists away from airport terminals and back to the docks. Approximately 2.5 million Chinese outbound global travellers took cruise trips in 2017, but this is expected to rise to 8-10 million by 2025.

Venturing to the End of the Earth

Over the past few months, you may have seen a plethora of articles about a growing number of Chinese travellers embarking on cruises to Antarctica. Today, China is Antarctica’s second-largest tourism market, having welcomed 8,273 Chinese visitors in the 2017-18 season, and approximately 90% of Chinese tourists visiting Antarctica choose to travel there via cruise (only 1%  directly fly to the South Pole). Perhaps the credit lies with Ctrip who provide nearly 200 Antarctic products on their platform and over 20 ships to choose from.

However, this adventure isn’t cheap, and appeals largely to group travellers who can afford to take extended time out of work. Figures from 2018 indicate Chinese tourists spent an average of 23 days on Antarctic tours, spending between $7,000 and $16,000 USD. Nevertheless, it seems money is no object for Chinese tourists looking for unusual yet fulfilling experiences that deliver ‘face’ status – on Ctrip, most Antarctic cruises for January and February have sold out, and the agency has increased its Antarctic products by 30% this year to meet the demand. This reinforces that unique travel experiences like these are becoming increasingly more important to Chinese travellers.

River cruises are making huge waves in accommodating Chinese guests

Idyllically cruising down one of the world’s most famous rivers and taking in its beautiful scenery is a popular travel experience, and certain river cruise companies are recognising the huge potential of attracting Chinese tourists to these experiences. In 2016, Viking Cruises announced its first step in the China market by dedicating two of its Europe river ships for Chinese travellers. The ships, which both set sail in 2017 along the Rhine and Danube rivers respectively, were fully staffed with Mandarin-speakers who made up all their hotel crew, included Mandarin signage, and a cuisine designed by a ‘Master Chef China’ judge. Furthermore, each ship assigned eight Mandarin guides to groups for their ground programs.

Viking were this committed to their ‘China Welcome’ to ensure their Chinese guests’ concerns about the language barrier, transportation and food and services were eliminated, and it seems to have paid off. Both cruises are still running, with Viking dedicating 100 tours for them in 2018, and the company now expects its cruises targeting Chinese travellers to account for half of their European river cruises in the future. Chinese guests on Viking’s Mandarin-language cruises can now also join a dedicated WeChat group to receive updates and share photos taken during the trip with each other.

This shows that, if their travel needs are accommodated for, there is an innate desire among Chinese travellers to experience a variety of destinations in the luxury and comfort of cruise tours, and there is definitely huge potential for them to become one of the authentic travel experiences they crave.

Chinese tourist spending – opportunity for land and sea

Chinese tourists have a strong spending power for duty-free shops; 40% of Chinese travellers purchase duty-free goods with an average receipt of $232, higher than the $146 global average. China’s cruise industry seems to have acknowledged this, and is redeveloping its cruise terminals to match the quality of services the best airport terminals provide. Shanghai’s Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal is undergoing redevelopment to transform into a “potential tourist attraction” itself, replacing its once solitary duty-free store with a duty-free shopping complex stocking high-end goods. Furthermore, the city plans to introduce linkages between cruises, airlines, trains and buses, to not only improve convenience of travel but to encourage Chinese tourists to visit the cruise terminal for their shopping needs alone. Perhaps overseas destinations should acknowledge this redevelopment and capitalise on Chinese tourists’ spending power by looking to provide more, and better, shopping facilities at their cruise ship ports (and if they accept Chinese mobile payments, even better!).

Reeling it in

As cruise companies are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities arising from China’s outbound tourism market, competition has ensued to ensure their ‘extra steps’ to accommodate Chinese travellers are being recognised inside-and-outside the industry. Perhaps this is why Viking Cruises’ Chinese traveller focused river cruises are the most publicised and prominent in their field – it will be interesting to monitor whether competing river cruise operators will follow suit and introduce more Mandarin-language services. Cruise companies can use all the PR they can get when it comes to the China market.

One way to promote your Chinese tourist friendly cruise trip would be through hosting an influential Chinese Key Opinion Leader, who could not only blog about the wide variety of destinations visited throughout the journey, but most importantly, describe in detail the facilities and services on the cruise that accommodate Chinese guests and where these can be improved. If an influential KOL tells their audience “this particular cruise line makes the extra effort with its Chinese guests” in a blog that reaches the home pages of China’s key travel platforms, this would no doubt put them on the radar for adventurous Chinese travellers.

If you are interested in finding out more about marketing your cruises to the Chinese, including the benefits of hosting a Chinese KOL, please feel free to contact us for a chat.

Enjoyed this article? Then these may also be of interest to you:

Two Chinese KOLs travel the UK with London North Eastern Railway

Watch and Go – How do TV and film influence Chinese travellers?

2019 Guide to Chinese National Holidays and Trade Shows

Chinese tourists and the Great Outdoors – let’s explore

Photo by ben o’bro on Unsplash

Chinese tourists and the Great Outdoors – let’s explore

Parks and gardens? Really? Surely it’s all about landmarks and outlet malls? Well, no. As it turns out, a mulberry tree can be just as appealing as a Mulberry handbag.

Venturing outdoors to the countryside, to see elegant botanical gardens and unrivalled displays of natural beauty, is becoming a very popular Chinese travel trend. It provides a change of scenery from world-famous landmarks that lure droves of tourists annually, while still allowing visitors to experience a country’s unique culture and natural environment.

This article aims to uncover the rising appeal of outdoor, rural, and natural spaces among Chinese travellers, exploring why it has become a trend, and highlighting the need for tour operators to introduce outdoor-themed itineraries.

Why is this a trend?

China’s air pollution is a growing concern

Many of China’s cities are notorious for being the most polluted spaces on our planet. Beijing is infamous for its air pollution – the thick smog poses long term health risks to its citizens, and data claimed breathing its air for a day was more harmful than smoking forty cigarettes a day.

When we ask our office in Beijing about the weather, the response often includes the ‘red light’ on the air quality monitors in everyone’s apartments. And it’s not just Beijing. Shanghai and Guangzhou, China’s trade and manufacturing hubs, have recently recorded higher levels of air pollution than the capital. This has prompted the Cordis Hongqiao, a newly opened luxury hotel in Shanghai, to boast its superior ‘air filtration’ system as a luxury feature. This is an attractive offering to its Chinese guests; each room is fitted with pollution monitors and sealed double-glazed windows to contain the fresh air indoors.

Rural tourism is on the rise

Perhaps this constant exposure to polluted air encourages citizens of Chinese cities to escape to the countryside when given the opportunity. Indeed, rural tourism has witnessed sharp growth in the past few years; around 2.1 billion trips were made to the Chinese countryside in 2016, creating jobs for 6.72 million rural people.

In 2017, China’s government invested $550 billion yuan into the development of rural tourism, as they expect it will help alleviate poverty and boost economic growth. This investment will provide better tourist services for travellers, but it will also consolidate rural tourism as a key preference for overseas travel.

Furthermore, China’s forest tourism industry has witnessed staggering growth in recent years. In 2017, around 1.39 billion trips were made to China’s forests and wetland parks, comprising of 28% of trips made in China that year. The industry, worth 61.8 billion in 2012, saw a rise in revenue to 140 billion in 2017. Clearly, more Chinese travellers are seeing the value in visiting areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Garden and flower tourism is b(l)ooming

One incentive for countryside escape is to see beautiful flowers. There are many ‘flower tours’ held throughout China every year, especially in the Yunnan, Guangdong, and Sichuan provinces. The idyllic countryside village of Huangling recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Flower Town program. This floral-themed experience, which provides visitors with scenic views of rapeseed flowers and peach blossoms, alongside flower tours and other cultural events, attracted 200,000 people globally in April and May 2017, an increase of 67% from the previous year. Evidently, escaping to the countryside is a popular travel trend.

The passion for the great outdoors among Chinese travellers extends beyond their own country, with many tourists travelling abroad to witness world-famous displays of natural beauty. Jing Travel recently interviewed Cai Wanza, a popular Chinese garden traveller who organises “world garden tours” and promotes “the garden lifestyle” in books and on social media. In 2018, Ms. Cai added routes covering California, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, and the Maldives to her garden tour themed itineraries.

Indeed, Ms. Cai’s garden tours give Chinese travellers the opportunity to see more of a destination they initially didn’t take seriously. While many Chinese travellers would stop off in Belgium for only a day or so before transferring, on Ms. Cai’s garden tour, the group spend fourteen days there since it has 200-plus private gardens.

Other Chinese social media influencers and KOLs have made their name through their enthusiasm for gardens and flowers. DACAI (@大菜微博), a popular food and floral travel blogger, has over 700,000 followers on Weibo, and according to Jing Travel, the second-most popular question posted on Mafengwo’s forum in 2017 was “What places in China can you recommend for roaming through a sea of flowers?”.

Chinese tourists are becoming more interested in travelling around Europe to see gardens and flowers. An article on the UK’s “most popular lavender fields” was recently published on Red Scarf (Honglingjin), a lifestyle website targeting young Chinese people living in the UK, and has over 180,000 views (as of June 2018). The article features lavender farms in Yorkshire, Somerset, and the Cotswolds – places renowned for their stunning natural beauty.

Isparta in western Turkey, known as the ‘Land of Roses’, welcomes thousands of tourists to its annual harvests. According to the Culture and Tourism Provincial Director, Osman Çot, the rose gardens have become an “attraction center” for tourists, with most of them coming from the Far East.

While flower and garden travel may not yet be as popular as sightseeing, it does support the narrative of Chinese travellers seeking unique experiences offered only by outbound destinations. Thus, tour operators should begin to have a more open mind and monitor developments in this trend to determine if it’s worthwhile introducing more garden product. As Ms. Cai said herself, “if tourism officials assume Chinese are not interested in their gardens, they miss a big opportunity”.

Outdoor attractions rank highly on Chinese review sites

Attractions in the great outdoors or in the countryside appear to rank highly on China’s influential review sites. Two of the top five attractions in the Netherlands, according to Mafengwo, are the historic neighbourhood of Zaanse Schans, known for its traditionally Dutch houses and windmills, and Keukenhof botanical gardens, among the world’s largest flower gardens. They respectively have 355 and 245 reviews on the platform.

Mafengwo’s listings for the most popular attractions in Germany also shed light on this trend. Ranked first is Neuschwanstein Castle, a 19th century palace overlooking vast areas of greenery and quaint Bavarian villages from its hilltop, which currently has 746 reviews. The runner-up is Königsee, an alpine lake in the heart of the countryside, with 288 reviews. Obviously, these destinations have had a huge impact on Chinese travellers, with many commenters describing the attraction for unassuming travellers, sharing advice on the best times to visit, and recommending other places to explore nearby.

Chinese travellers visit destinations purely for the countryside

Many destinations attracting Chinese tourists can attribute their success to the great outdoors. One such example is New Zealand – known for its vast landscapes of greenery, it has been attracting Chinese tourists for years to its outdoor adventure activities. The Antipodean Explorer, dubbed the “world’s best moving hotel”, is a new venture aiming to attract luxury-oriented Chinese travellers. It transports them between Auckland and Queenstown, past New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes.

Some destination marketing organisations are beginning to realise the potential of promoting the ‘escape to the countryside’ theme to Chinese tourists. Recently, a China Readiness workshop was hosted by I Love NY state tourism and the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association (SCVA) to improve understanding of Chinese traveller’s needs to 50 representatives of local businesses. SCVA represents the Catskills Mountains, a scenic country getaway located 90 minutes from New York City. In delivering overviews of the difference between the domestic and Chinese tourism markets, and how to effectively use WeChat to market destinations to Chinese travellers, this workshop encouraged local businesses to embrace change and begin to “think globally”.

Speaking of ‘thinking globally’, we’ve done a fair amount of work to promote UK botanical gardens in the Chinese travel market. Back in March, we took Kew Gardens on a sales mission to Beijing, arranging meetings with key tour operators, including Ctrip and Caissa Touristic, to sell the Kew Gardens product. In May, we also arranged a visit to the beautiful RHS Wisley Garden for the influential Chinese travel blogger, Liu Huan (Queenio欢儿欢), who took stunning photographs of the gardens and displays for her followers to enjoy.

Listen up

It seems as if there is a subsection of Chinese tourists who travel both domestically and abroad to see the countryside, picturesque gardens, and rural towns. There is evident demand here, and since many tour operators assume Chinese tourists only want to see a country’s must-see attractions, the forward-thinking have an opportunity to step in and make some hay whilst the sun is shining.

If you are interested in the benefits of attracting more Chinese visitors, please contact us for a chat.

Enjoyed this article? Then these may also be of interest to you:

Are Chinese tourists the new adventurers?

Watch and Go – How do TV and film influence Chinese travellers?

What will the EU-China Tourism Year bring?

Explaining Chinese Payment Systems – What’s the fuss about?

Photo – Ana Madeleine Uribe from Pexels (https://www.pexels.com/@bananamade)

Watch and Go – How do TV and film influence Chinese travellers?

Image: Malin Head, Donegal, Republic of Ireland. Appeared in the latest Star Wars franchise films.

Is it really a travel incentive?

Travelling abroad to visit film and television locations is an often-overlooked tourism incentive. Since Chinese tourists are beginning to favour authentic travel experiences over shopping and organised group tour packages, travelling to see film and television shooting locations, often in remote areas of countries steeped with history or natural beauty, plays right into this narrative.

Despite the blind-eye turned to articles and reports concerning this subject, it is hardly a recent phenomenon. I am guilty myself of reserving particular days of my holiday itinerary to visit iconic film and TV locations, such as Tokyo’s Park Hyatt Hotel, famously featured in Lost in Translation, and the city walls of Dubrovnik, which double as King’s Landing in Game of Thrones (more on this later). I’m certainly not alone – the Making of Harry Potter studio tour at Warner Bros Studios in Watford was the most-booked attraction through TripAdvisor last year.

This article hopes to uncover how and why film and TV location tourism is an important trend tour operators should consider when developing products for Chinese tourists.

Lights, Camera, Action

A recent webinar co-hosted by Mafengwo revealed while Chinese people watch films or TV for its content and characters, they also pay close attention to shooting locations. According to Mafengwo, 25% of Chinese FIT travellers will visit a film or TV shooting location during their next domestic or international trip. 42% of these FIT travellers are from the post-90s generation, meaning this is a hugely popular travel experience among young people.

Reality shows, TV series, and animations have more influence over FIT travellers than any other genre. Nicholas Tse, a famous Chinese chef, recently visited New Zealand to film his reality show Chef Nic, which has received over 1.04 billion hits across Tencent and iQiyi since 2014. China is “New Zealand’s second largest international visitor market”, meaning Chef Nic may help attract Chinese travellers to New Zealand.

Among the most popular destinations to visit due to film and TV shooting locations are Northern Ireland, Turkey’s Istanbul, Morocco’s Casablanca, Iceland, and the Koh Chang ‘Elephant Island’ in Thailand. Elephant Island is the filming location of the popular Chinese reality show Chinese Restaurant, which invites Chinese celebrities to open and run their own independent restaurant. Following the success of the show’s pilot episode, broadcast in July 2017, Elephant Island witnessed a 547% increase in visitors.

The ‘Lost in Thailand effect’

This was not the first time Thailand had welcomed international visitors to its shores for its filming locations. Film enthusiasts have been visiting the country’s northern city of Chiang Mai in droves since December 2012 when the Chinese comedy, Lost in Thailand, became a surprise blockbuster hit. By early January 2013, the film had grossed over RMB 1 billion, becoming China’s most successful homegrown production.

Lost in Thailand’s success was a driving factor in Thailand, welcoming 4.7 million Chinese visitors in 2013. The growth in tourism numbers to Thailand continues to be outstanding, with 8.8 million Chinese tourists visiting the country in 2016. On Taobao, China’s largest e-commerce website, travel agencies continue to offer Lost in Thailand-themed activities, such as crossing rivers on elephant back.

Seattle has seen similar success with the 2013 Chinese romantic comedy Finding Mr Right, known in China simply as Beijing Meets Seattle. The film’s popularity helped attract more than 75,000 Chinese visitors to the seaport city in 2013.

According to The Guardian, in 2014, more than a third of homes priced over $1 million in exclusive parts of Seattle and in its suburbs were “being bought by Chinese owners looking to move to America”. The success of these films in China has made tour operators realise the potential in attracting Chinese travellers to destinations featured in popular films and television series.

Europe is also benefitting

Europe has also tasted the fruit borne from this trend. In 2015, popular Chinese travel website Qyer attributed the popularity of Czech Republic, Switzerland and Turkey to the phenomenon of hit films and TV shows. Czech Republic witnessed a 119% increase in spending by Chinese tourists in 2015 – the country benefitted from the success of Somewhere Only We Know, the first Chinese film to be set in Prague. Like Seattle, direct flights from Beijing to Prague were introduced, seven months following the film’s Chinese release in mid-September of 2015.

The lasting influence of Somewhere Only We Know is still evident – over 491,000 Chinese tourists visited Czech Republic in 2017. The steps of the Rudolfinum, featured in the film’s finale, are still a popular place for Chinese tourists to gather and take photos.

Why international co-productions are important

Many countries have attempted to capitalise on the success of Chinese productions filmed abroad to improve their own tourism numbers. In 2015, following Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s, visit to China, three deals were made to create India-China co-productions, one of which was directed by a star of Lost in Thailand. China also made cooperation agreements with Russia and Spain in 2017 in the hope of rolling out their domestic films overseas. With regards to the China-Russia agreement, between Russian Film Group and Chinese film company Yangtze, the two countries plan to collaborate on three feature films planned for theatrical release, investing around $50 million each.

However, co-productions aren’t always a stable bet. The Great Wall, released in 2017 and starring Matt Damon, is the most expensive China-US co-production to date, but it fell short of box office forecasts, despite becoming one of China’s highest grossing films. The difficulty with co-productions is “finding films and stories that can work both in China and international markets”, but if done correctly, these films can gain mass market, international appeal – drawing more eyes to the locations shown on-screen.

Closer to home

The UK’s film and television history also contributes to its popularity. Our recent article on the EU-China Tourism Year explored some of the UK’s key film and television-related attractions that appeal to Chinese tourists – from Castle Howard to Dover Castle. While these particular locations are well-known for their cultural heritage, their appearance in popular British dramas and Disney musicals attract hundreds of thousands of overseas tourists every year.

The HBO fantasy drama Game of Thrones, most of which is shot in Northern Ireland, has become surprisingly popular in China. When the first season aired there in 2014, it was heavily censored by China Central Television, which removed all traces of violence and nudity. In this form, Asia Times described the show as like “watching a documentary of European castles on the History Channel”.

Since then, the rise of online video platforms in China like Youku, and WeChat mini programs like Tencent Video, have allowed viewers to watch uncensored versions of the show with Mandarin subtitles.

Ctrip discovered that Game of Thrones is putting countries like Croatia, Northern Ireland, and Iceland on the Chinese map. The online travel agency reported that the number of Chinese tourists who booked a visit to Croatia through the website in the first half of 2017 increased by 300% compared with 2016, while Iceland saw its tour booking numbers increase by 148%.

In August 2017, Tourism Ireland ran a promotion to remind Chinese fans that Northern Ireland is “one of the main filming locations of Game of Thrones”, which was estimated to be seen by 14 million people across Chinese social networks, film review sites, and Tourism Ireland’s social media accounts.

This was followed by the news that Northern Ireland is expecting over 2.3 million visitors in 2018 because of China’s emerging market. The recent announcement that Cathay Pacific will launch the first direct flight between Hong Kong and Dublin this year will help achieve this, helping to expand Northern Ireland’s visitors to the 100 Chinese nationals living in and around the Chinese city. Clearly, an international phenomenon like Thrones can incentivise travellers to visit places previously overshadowed by more popular destinations.

Show me the money

It looks as if film and television shooting locations are becoming a significant draw for Chinese tourists, and are a key incentive for them to travel abroad. The importance of film and television in travel of tourism should not be understated, and tour operators and DMOs should closely monitor Chinese productions set to film abroad so they can pounce early on any opportunities to promote their tours and destination.

If you are interested in the benefits of attracting more Chinese visitors, please contact us for a chat.

Enjoyed this article? Then these may also be of interest to you:

What will the EU-China Tourism Year bring?

Are Chinese tourists the new adventurers?

Harnessing the power of Chinese celebrity for the city of Bristol

How to attract Chinese tourists to your destination

Chinese travel KOL visits the UK

In May 2018, we were delighted to welcome the influential Chinese blogger, Liu Huan, to the UK on a media trip. Huan is an illustrator and photographer who graduated from the China Academy of Art.

We worked with nine partners on Huan’s itinerary to make the trip as fulfilling as possible, including VisitBrighton, London & Partners, Historic Royal Palaces, The View from the Shard, City Cruises, Royal Museums Greenwich, Household Cavalry Museum, English Heritage, and RHS Wisley Gardens.

The seven-day itinerary covered many of the UK’s most essential attractions. Huan immersed herself in the fun and frolics of the Brighton Festival, visited the main attractions of the city and took to the countryside at the Seven Sisters Country Park. In London, she discovered the lived history of Tower of London, made friends with the Queen’s Horses at the Household Cavalry Museum, took a City Cruise down the Thames, saw the breathtaking View from the Shard, enjoyed the Royal Wedding in Kensington Palace’s gardens, explored the exotic delights of London’s Chinatown, and had thrilling day trips out to Stonehenge and RHS Wisley Gardens.

Results

We were thrilled with the results of this project and the huge success of Huan’s unique approach to blogging. Throughout the trip, Huan shared her experiences via posts on her WeChat for her friends and family to see, and Weibo for her 49,000+ followers. She published 17 posts on both her WeChat and Weibo, each including a selection of stunning on-location photographs. Huan adds a personal touch to many of these photographs by illustrating her cartoon self into them; cartoon Huan can be seen frolicking through RHS Wisley’s beautiful Gardens and gazing out at London’s picturesque night sky from The Shard’s Open Air Skydeck.

Huan wrote and published an extensive article about the trip on Mafengwo, one of China’s most popular review sites, as well as Ctrip Mobile, Qyer, and Autohome. In the month after publishing her blog, she amassed an additional 10,000 Weibo followers; clearly, Chinese internet users enjoyed her coverage.

On 20th July, Huan’s blog reached the home page of Ctrip Mobile. Five days later on 25th July, the blog made it to the front page of Qyer BBS, a place reserved for the best Chinese travel blogs. Qyer BBS also wrote about Huan’s incredible illustrations in a Weibo post which was shared to their 2.86 million followers to enjoy.

As of August 2018, the blog’s total views have reached over 37,000 across the four platforms, and it has over 750 likes. More than 350 users have saved the blog for future reference , to help inspire them for their next trip abroad.

If you are interested in Chinese KOL trips, please contact us for a chat.

Enjoyed this article? Then these may also be of interest to you:

Chinese KOL Trip from London to Scotland by Rail (Case Study)

Taiwanese Superstar Nana Ou-yang Visits Bristol (Case Study)

A Guide to Chinese students studying abroad in Europe

Are Chinese tourists the new adventurers?

Explaining Chinese Payment Systems – What’s the fuss about?

China’s ski industry is taking off

The growing popularity of adventure tourism is among the factors influencing China’s recent nationwide passion for winter sports. China is due to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022, and as a result, Chinese President Xi Jinping is attempting to convert 300 million Chinese people to winter sports. The 2014/2015 winter season evidenced a 21% increase in the number of visitors to China’s ski resorts from the previous year, with around 12,500,000 skiers. Despite this, the Chinese ski market is currently an eighth of the size of the US’s, and one sixteenth of Europe’s. Evidently, China’s ski industry has a long way to go before measuring up with the high standard set by Europe, and a short time to achieve this.

However, as we know from other initiatives, such as football and Olympic sports, when the Chinese President gets behind tourism, you can expect great results.

Walking on thin ice

According to a study of the Chinese ski industry, showcased at the Asia Pacific Snow Conference during Beijing’s ISPO/ALPITEC exhibition, China now has around 568 ski resorts, with 108 of them having been built in 2015. However, only 122 of these have ski lifts.

With only five years until countries worldwide flock to China to compete in winter sports’ biggest event, the Chinese government is engaged in a mad rush to expand its domestic ski industry. Financial Times reports the Chinese government has invested $11 billion USD into the redevelopment of Chongli, a popular district for winter activities, in the hope of establishing it as the centre of the Chinese ski industry. Chongli’s Thaiwoo ski resort is receiving extensive redevelopment – by its completion, it aims to have 200 ski slopes, measuring 138km in length, 21 magic carpets, and 45 ski lifts. In addition, the Fulong Four Seasons Town, a massive complex encompassing a 750,000 square metre ski venue with a collection of hotels and shopping areas, opened in Chongli last December.

This massive scope extends beyond the upcoming Winter Olympics, as China aims to have 1,000 ski resorts by 2030, double the current number. This is considering China’s relatively weak snowfall compared to previous Winter Olympics hosts, with the government having to supply fake snow for its Zhangjiakou and Yanqing venues because they receive only 25cm of snow per year.

China’s lack of snowfall is considered a major issue going forward by Switzerland Global Enterprise, who claim international suppliers could benefit from the fact that, in 2015, China imported 3,500 of a total 4,000 sets of snow making machines.

With great powder comes great responsibility

As China develops new ski resorts nationwide and overseas, it has been witnessing a rise in the number of indoor skiing activities. Back in July, the world’s biggest indoor ski slope, which spans 800,000 square metres, opened at a Chinese ski resort in Harbin. In addition, in 2015, 3.2 million Chinese people went indoor skiing in their home country. This implies China is pushing for its people to have affordable and year-round access to skiing, attracting families as well as enthusiasts.

Skiing is on the up-and-up

The Chinese government has paid close attention to the rise of Chinese adventure tourism, demonstrated by recent developments such as the construction of a $14.7 million dollar visitors complex at the base of Nepal’s Mt. Everest. This will accommodate a hotel, a mountaineering museum, and shops to buy climbing supplies.

Fourteen ski resorts in Switzerland have begun capitalising on the prediction that China will become the largest winter sports market worldwide by offering ski lessons in Chinese. Switzerland Tourism, the country’s national marketing organisation, offers Chinese tourists ski trip packages which bundle together gear rental, tickets and lessons, making their travel experience more comfortable and convenient.

New Zealand is also broadening the international appeal of its adventure tourism activities. The country’s national tourism institution, Tourism New Zealand, recently partnered with Air China and Beijing Ski Association to push New Zealand as “the perfect counter season ski destination for Chinese skiers”. This promotional campaign prompted an increase in the number of Air China passengers travelling to New Zealand in 2017, from 3% in July, to 9% in August.

In addition, a 2017 Chinese Ski Insights Survey, conducted by Club Med and TripAdvisor, found that, out of 3,357 Chinese respondents, 37% had visited another Chinese city to ski, and 18% had travelled abroad to destinations including Japan, South Korea, and Switzerland.

While Chinese officials are doing all they can to increase visitors to Chinese ski resorts, international tourism operators are hoping the push for skiing domestically will lead to a rise in the numbers of Chinese tourists skiing in Europe and North America. Global ski resorts would do well to start preparing for this inevitable influx and get their destinations on the Chinese tourist map as soon as possible.

If you are involved in winter sports and you want to attract more Chinese visitors, please contact us for a chat.

Enjoyed this article? Then these may also be of interest to you:

Are Chinese tourists the new adventurers?

The business of sport in China

China’s footballing future: the rise of a new soccer superpower?

How to attract Chinese tourists to your destination

Thanks to our Account Director Vivienne Song for the wonderful photo of her and her friends at a ski resort.

Are Chinese tourists the new adventurers?

Chinese tourists are becoming more independent

In 2017, it is predicted 135 million Chinese tourists will travel abroad, making China the world’s largest outbound travel market. This has the potential to increase to an estimated 234 million Chinese overseas travellers by 2020. However, an ever-widening gap between Chinese tourists travelling abroad in groups, who are likely to be first-time overseas travellers opting for the comfort and convenience of organised group tours, and Chinese free and independent travellers (FITs), who are willing to venture off the beaten path to uncover unique and exciting experiences, is becoming more evident.

Reportedly, Chinese FITs make up most of the growth in Chinese outbound tourist numbers in 2017. 40% of these travellers are fully independent, another 40% are semi-independent, and the remaining 20% are tourists who rely on package holidays, but do not travel in big groups.

Switzerland is currently observing a rise in Chinese FITs. Data from Swiss Quality Hotels, Switzerland’s largest hotel chain, shows a 144.5% increase in the number of individual Chinese travellers who visited the country in January and February of 2017 compared with the same months in 2016. In addition, 12% of bookings for Swiss Quality Hotels were made on the same day of arrival, which indicates some Chinese FITs are willing to flavour their travel experience with spontaneity.

Earlier this year, Skift reported 70% of Chinese outbound travellers made their own travel arrangements or purchased travel packages for their first trip abroad, but became increasingly more confident to venture out independently for subsequent trips.

Different city, different people

As Chinese travellers become familiar with a foreign destination through multiple trips, and acclimatise to its cultural differences, they begin to venture outside the comfort zone of holiday packages and organised group travels.

This reveals the differences in travel behaviour between Chinese outbound travellers living in first-tier and second-tier cities. Residents of first-tier cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai are generally more experienced with independent travel than second-tier city residents.

China Luxury Advisors’ co-founder, Renee Hartmann, claims the majority of growth for Chinese overseas group travel comes from residents of second-tier cities, such as Chengdu and Wuhan, who are mainly first-time travellers. This is mainly due to the recent introduction of direct flights from these cities to overseas destinations. France is the most popular European destination among second-tier city residents, who account for 40% of all Chinese travellers visiting the country. Also, second-tier city residents typically spend more overseas than their first-city counterparts, showing that they take advantage of their first journey abroad.

Desire for ‘better travel experiences’

China’s perception of the importance of health and wellness is a significant factor in fuelling a desire to seek better travel experiences. According to Amrita Banta, the managing director of Shanghai-based Agility Research and Strategy, China’s affluent classes are becoming more adventurous as they increasingly adopt active and healthy lifestyles. A report conducted by the firm, which focuses on high-end consumers, found that China’s top earners ranked ‘travel experiences’ as the third-greatest incentive for travelling abroad, behind shopping for cosmetics and designer clothing.

Indeed, the lure of shopping as the primary motivator for Chinese outbound travel is diminishing in favour of unique and exciting travel experiences. Hotels.com and ISPO found the proportion of Chinese tourists who travelled for shopping decreased by two-thirds in 2016, and one-third in 2017. Instead, according to a Financial Times Confidential Research survey, the Chinese are spending more on dining, accommodation, and entertainment, a rise from 31% to 44% since 2013, to satisfy their desire to experience more from the countries they visit.

Adventure tourism is on the rise

It is estimated that over the next three years, Chinese overseas adventure, polar, and road trips will increase by 52%, 38%, and 75% respectively. New Zealand evidenced a 60% increase from 2013 to 2014 of visiting Chinese FITs, primarily for their leading skydive businesses and other renowned adventure activities. Reportedly, 14% to 19% of Chinese tourists planning on visiting New Zealand are doing so because of such extreme activities. Since New Zealand’s skydiving companies are struggling to reach the high demand, this had led to a shortage of licensed instructors. With the country’s unpredictable weather, Chinese travel agents ensure two bookings slots are made for skydives to reduce the risk of alienating Chinese visitors with sudden cancellations.

Tourism New Zealand found 71% of Chinese tourists would like to go hot air ballooning when in the country, among a list of other activities including abseiling, paragliding, and white-water rafting. This is due to younger Chinese travellers taking advantage of affordable flights and relaxed visa restrictions to experience activities which have little-to-no market in China.

Likewise, Morocco is witnessing a growth in Chinese FITs. According to the China Travel Academy, since the removal of visa restrictions last year, Morocco has attracted three-times as many Chinese tourists since May 2016.

Alaska’s vast wilderness and natural beauty has also become a popular tourist destination among young Chinese people travelling to the US for the second time, exceeding visits to Los Angeles and New York. This is emblematic of a recent surge in popularity for polar tourism among Chinese FITs. This year, Chinese tourists travelling to Antarctica accounted for 12% of an estimated 46,000 annual visitors. Father Christmas also saw a fair share of attention; Finland’s Lapland measured a 92% increase in overnight stays by Chinese visitors in 2016.

Keep it real

Evidently, Chinese FITs are clamouring for niche tourism experiences. In response, a leading Chinese tour operator has warned against attracting too many Chinese groups to overseas attractions, mainly to prevent overcrowding, but also to ensure an attraction’s authenticity is not compromised as a result.

One of the key appeals of overseas travel for Chinese tourists is the ability to share their unique experiences with friends and family back home through social media. The majority of Chinese FITs use social media and travel review sites, such as Ctrip and Mafengwo, for travel recommendations, and they depend upon user reviews to inform their own overseas travels. As a result, Chinese tourists are becoming increasingly enticed by attractions which appeal to fewer visitors than your typical tourist traps.

The Chinese outbound adventure tourism market is growing at a rapid rate. With China due to host the Winter Olympics in 2022, and with Chinese President Xi Jinping attempting to convert 300 million Chinese people to winter sports, the push for adventure tourism among Chinese travellers has never been more dramatic.

Professor Dr. Wolfgang Arlt, COTRI, told guests at the Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Dinner in London this month that the Chinese are looking for unique experiences that they cannot find in China, such as stargazing, mushroom and blueberry picking, and a slice of authentic daily life and culture. The passion among China’s FITs to seek out authentic experiences has certainly created exciting opportunities for international tour operators.

If you are involved in adventure tourism and you want to attract more Chinese visitors, please contact us for a chat.

Enjoyed this article? Then these may also be of interest to you:

How to attract Chinese tourists to your destination

Is the rise of Chinese travel to the UK unstoppable? 

The rise of the independent Chinese traveller