Chi­nese trav­el­ers chang­ing in­ter­na­tional tourism mar­ket

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG MINGJIE in Lon­don wang­mingjie@mail.chi­nadai­

Af­ter more than a decade of rapid growth, the Chi­nese out­bound travel mar­ket is see­ing more Chi­nese trav­el­ers who are in­de­pen­dent, so­phis­ti­cated and ea­ger to seek out new ex­pe­ri­ences, in­dus­try ex­perts say.

Pre­vi­ously, many in­ex­pe­ri­enced Chi­nese tourists stuck to well-known sites, and it didn’t take a lot of ex­per­tise to win their busi­ness. But that, they said, is chang­ing.

“The de­sire of sea­soned Chi­nese trav­el­ers to ex­pe­ri­ence au­then­tic­ity and na­ture is get­ting big­ger,” said Wolf­gang Arlt, di­rec­tor of the China Out­bound Tourism Re­search In­sti­tute.

“Con­se­quently, for many ser­vice providers and des­ti­na­tions, the easy har­vest of low hang­ing fruit seems to have come to an end.”

The num­ber of Chi­nese out­bound tourists reached a record in 2015 of 117 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the China National Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

More of those tourists are in­de­pen­dent trav­el­ers who are look­ing to “travel and live like lo­cals”, a re­cent re­search report from COTRI said.

It is im­por­tant that for­eign tourism mar­keters do not stereo­type the Chi­nese mar­ket, said Alas­tair Mor­ri­son, for­mer pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Tourism Stud­ies As­so­ci­a­tion and CEO of Belle Tourism In­ter­na­tional Con­sult­ing, based in Shang­hai.

Mor­ri­son said he thinks

that there is a lot of la­bel­ing of Chi­nese tourists, such as pi­geon­hol­ing a par­tic­u­lar age group as all lik­ing to shop and de­mand­ing to eat Chi­nese food all the time.

“It is im­por­tant to avoid stereo­types, be­cause the out­bound Chi­nese mar­ket is be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated, more ma­ture and more seg­mented. I do not think for­eign mar­keters should use stereo­types to por­tray the Chi­nese mar­ket in their ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­mo­tion,” said Mor­ri­son.

A new tourism re­search report con­firmed that the mar­ket is ma­tur­ing as the mo­tives for Chi­nese trav­el­ers change from sight­see­ing to life­style ex­pe­ri­ences.

A re­search report on 20152016 Chi­nese out­bound tourist con­sump­tion by World Tourism Cities Fed­er­a­tion and Ip­sos, a mar­ket re­search firm, was pre­sented at the World Travel Mar­ket in Lon­don re­cently.

Based on a sur­vey of over 11,000 Chi­nese tourists, the report sug­gests that more than 76 per­cent con­sider travel an im­por­tant way to im­prove their qual­ity of life and hap­pi­ness. It also found that the av­er­age Chi­nese tourist makes five for­eign trips abroad dur­ing a life­time.

“This shows that the Chi­nese out­bound tourism mar­ket is de­vel­op­ing in a way that is much more in line with Western mar­kets,” said James Ken­nell, prin­ci­pal lec­turer in tourism at the Univer­sity of Green­wich. “I sus­pect that as Chi­nese mil­len­ni­als (peo­ple who reached adult­hood by the year 2000) move into the tourism mar­ket, we will see these trends con­tin­u­ing.”

As the Chi­nese out­bound mar­ket ma­tures, there will be more in­de­pen­dent trav­el­ers and fewer who opt for pack­age tours, mean­ing for­eign tourist des­ti­na­tions will need to de­velop new types of tourism prod­ucts and new ar­range­ments for Chi­nese tourists.

“It will be a good op­por­tu­nity for spe­cial in­ter­est tourism, in­volv­ing his­tory, art, cul­ture, cuisines, the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and ecol­ogy,” Mor­ri­son said.

World­wide, in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rivals have surged from 25 mil­lion glob­ally in 1950 to 1.1 bil­lion in 2015, and are ex­pected to reach 1.8 bil­lion by 2030, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The in­crease of 700 mil­lion global trav­el­ers an­tic­i­pated be­tween 2015 and 2030 will mainly stem from China, said Arlt, who spoke at the 2016 World Tourism Mar­ket in Lon­don. For Europe, this is a good chance to lure the ris­ing numbers of Chi­nese vis­i­tors to more places, so that big, pop­u­lar cities do not be­come even more con­gested with tourists.

Given the evolv­ing na­ture of more ex­pe­ri­enced Chi­nese vis­i­tors, the Ital­ian tourism au­thor­i­ties are look­ing to of­fer more di­verse travel itin­er­ar­ies.

In an at­tempt to at­tract ex­pe­ri­enced Chi­nese trav­el­ers known for seek­ing out new des­ti­na­tions, a new Ital­ian tourism prod­uct — the Pil­grims’ Paths — is meant to ap­peal to the cu­rios­ity and de­sires of the tar­get group. It con­sists of routes, once walked by re­li­gious pil­grims, that are packed with his­tory.

Raf­faella Rossi, di­rec­tor of Francesco’s Ways, a con­sor­tium of busi­nesses aim­ing to pro­mote the routes in­ter­na­tion­ally, said such new tourism op­tions re­spond to the needs of tourists, in­clud­ing Chi­nese trav­el­ers, be­cause they of­fer a large va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences in places that are not so well­known to the pub­lic.

“We must help tourists from China get to know our great food and wine, nu­mer­ous crafts and shop­ping ar­eas, as well as the small towns in dif­fer­ent re­gions, and ro­man­tic places where they can ex­pe­ri­ence ‘slow’ tourism and come into con­tact with un­touched na­ture. We need to en­rich our of­fer­ings of spe­cial and thrilling ex­pe­ri­ences that can spark the in­ter­est of this clien­tele,” she said. Slow tourism al­lows trav­el­ers to take their time to more fully en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Al­most ev­ery tourism board is talk­ing about get­ting more Chi­nese vis­i­tors. How­ever, Arlt said not all of them un­der­stand that it is not nec­es­sar­ily the num­ber of ar­rivals, but the numbers of overnight stays and how much each vis­i­tor spends that is im­por­tant.

“Hav­ing fewer vis­i­tors who stay longer, spend more, have more in­ter­est in the coun­try they are vis­it­ing is ac­tu­ally bet­ter and more sus­tain­able than bringing crowds of pack­age-tour, short-time vis­i­tors who look for the cheap­est of­fer and do not re­ally care about what they are tak­ing pho­tos of,” Arlt ex­plained.

The out­bound Chi­nese mar­ket is be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated, more ma­ture and more seg­mented.” Alas­tair Mor­ri­son, for­mer pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Tourism Stud­ies As­so­ci­a­tion

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