Ibiza, an island off the east coast of Spain, welcomed 150 Chinese tourists this year, a rare scene for locals. Encouraged by their arrival, Gloria Corral Joven, head of the local tourism bureau, led a team to Shanghai in mid-November to promote Ibiza as a destination to Chinese tourists.
“We’re building a Chinese website, which will be open for the public early next year,” Joven said.
Ibiza is one of 18 exhibitors from Spain, an emerging destination for Chinese tourists, to attend the Shanghai International Tourism Fair, which has just finished. The fair attracts over 2,500 exhibitors from 106 countries and regions, and is one of the largest tourist events hosted in Asia.
“China is a very important market for Spain,” Rafael Chamorro, an official from the Spain National Administration of Tourism, told Xinhua. “Our research shows that Chinese young people prefer customized, personalized travel routes, and we are designing such packages to cater to their needs.”
Not only fledgling markets like Spain, but long-prevalent destinations such as New York are also working hard to attract Chinese tourists.
“See Your City,” a campaign launched at the fair by NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing organization, encourages visitors to visit scenic spots such as the Statue of Liberty and Fifth Avenue to create their own magical moments in the city.
Chinese tourist more than tripled in New York from 2010 to 2015, and the city is hoping to bring new incentives to draw more Chinese visitors.
“China has become the second largest overseas market for New York tourism. We hope to attract more Chinese by partnering with Shanghai as we celebrate the ‘China-US Tourism Year’ this year,” said Fred Dixon, head of NYC & Company.
A Clice of the Tourist Pie
About 128 million Chinese flocked overseas last year, almost ten times the figure in 2001, according to a report by the Wuhan Branch of the China Tourism Academy. The report showed that Chinese consumers spent a whopping 292.2 billion U.S. dollars overseas, about 23.2 percent of the world’s outbound consumption in 2015. This makes China a huge chunk of the global tourist pie.
Unlike the good old days when going abroad was simply a matter of collecting postcards from around the world, Chinese travelers are getting pickier when it comes to traveling and want more authentic experiences. Slower, deeper experiences of local communities are becoming more appealing to young people, and sites with long histories also popular. This is exactly how Ibiza is courting Chinese tourists.
Four of Ibiza’s historical sites have UNESCO’s World Heritage status, Joven said, adding that she believes such titles will attract more Chinese tourists in the future.
Diversified Needs displayed
Better quality services are also being presented to attract Chinese tourists. A report from Ctrip, a major travel service provider, revealed that the rise in disposable income of middle class families, increased air-travel capacity, and the loosening of visa requirements had further boosted growth in outbound tourism. Safety, service and price are the three issues Chinese tourists care about most, the report said.
“Language is the biggest obstacle for Chinese visiting Spain, so we are working with China’s Tencent at this year’s fair to develop a translation app,” Chamorro said.
To satisfy diversified travel needs, packages tailor-made for Chinese travelers were displayed at the fair, which ran from November 11 to 13. For the upcoming Christmas and New Year season, Resorts World Sentosa (RSW), a popular Singaporean resort, offers four packages – including one that offers fine dining at RWS’ multiple Michelin restaurants – for Chinese travelers that love fine food.
This comes after an official report on the Chinese tourism market from the Singapore Tourism Board highlighted food as a major factor for Chinese tourists. RWS has even staged a Chinese-language musical adapted from the story of Mulan, a famous female warrior in ancient China. As outbound travel has become increasingly popular among Chinese, China has become the market that the world’s tourist industry dare not lose.
“China has been one of the most important markets for RWS, and we will continue to develop new premium products and offerings as well as explore more cross-border collaborations to present cutting-edge, world-class Mandarin entertainment for Chinese tourists,” said Khoo Shao Tze, vice president for resort sales and entertainment at RWS.