The number of Chinese tourists staying in Portuguese hotels has risen drastically in recent times by 232 percent in just four years from over 23,000 in 2009 to over 74,000 in 2013, and China saw a total of 98.19 million outbound flights, an 18-percent increase from the previous year. That makes it hardly surprising that countries around the world are boosting efforts to attract Chinese tourists, including debt-ridden countries like Spain, Portugal and Greece which are now realizing they must shift their focus and become more proactive.
Mafalda Valerio, consultant at Edeluc, said they had recently got more engaged about attracting Chinese investors, coinciding with a greater awareness in the general public about the importance of Chinese tourists in Portugal.
“Edeluc has been aware of the potential to develop tourism here for a long time,” said Mafalda Valerio. “we feel that this is the right time to invest in this area.”
She also pointed out that Portugal had a very strong tourism sector and an excellent combination of exclusive offers to the Chinese travelers, from historical castles and mansions, to great landscapes, blue skies and clean air, as well as great food and wine.
One of Portugal’s biggest tourism agencies, said it was undergoing training because this was the “first step” before investing in this market and launching a campaign, and that the language and gastronomy were their two areas of focus. Many tourism operators haven’t yet started to adapt to these new potential clients, however. Vasco Melo, director at Portugal tour operator Portugal Tours, said they haven’t yet got any Chinese clients because they lack the relevant knowledge.
“We would need to have the knowledge for that,” he said, adding that a good start would be to have a website in Chinese.