The Race to Attract Chinese Tourists: What are DMOs doing?
The China Tourism Academy predicted that around 116 million Chinese will travel and spend 155 billion U.S. dollars overseas in 2014 – a lucrative group that have DMOs fighting to attract them. Here’s a look at how they’re stepping it up in the tourism arena:
Many countries in Africa and SE Asia are popular with Chinese tourists already because it’s easy to get visas on arrival or E visas, like Malaysia. This year, dozens of top destinations have followed suit, streamlining their visa processes for Chinese citizens: Britain and Ireland created an MOU on visa cooperation to allow Chinese citizens to see both on a single visa, France, Germany, and Italy are attempting to shorten their visa processing time to less than three days, Japan has eased some of its stricter policies on visa, and Thailand has even started offering free visas to Chinese tourists.
Engaging in Chinese tourists in Chinese has also risen to a new level. While hiring Chinese-speaking managers, posting signs in Chinese, and accepting UnionPay are all important features to have on site, many DMOs are targeting tourists before they arrive, while they’re planning a trip. San Francisco International Airport became the first American airport to have a Chinese language website, ensuring better communication from Chinese tourists interested in the west coast. In nationwide effort to attract tourists to various landmarks, VisitBritain has planned a campaign to rename the UK’s famous landmarks in Chinese via Chinese social media, while Brand USA’s Chinese platform allows would-be tourists to search, win prizes, and share via Chinese social media.
Similarly, even before shopping, 90% of Chinese tourists planning on buying luxury goods plan their purchases before their trip. Practically every luxury brand has a presence on Chinese social media, and taking it a step further are several newspaper and magazines in Italy and France, who have recently begun distributing luxury magazines in Chinese, as Chinese shoppers tend to spend more than other nationalities. In the first six months of this year, Italy saw Chinese shoppers increase by a whopping 18%.
Even transportation is jumping aboard: More airports and airlines like, Chicago’s O’Hare and Geneva’s International airport, are working closely with their Chinese counterparts to secure direct flights from Beijing, making it easier for Chinese tourists to get there.
Europe’s cross-country railway, Eurostar, has launched a campaign on Chinese social media platform, Weibo, to encourage tourists not only to use their service, but also to interact with their brand online.
Celebrity spokespeople have long been a popular way for brands to market their products, and for tourism, it’s no different. Both California and New Zealand have experimented with using Chinese celebrity brand ambassador to a highly successful degree.
There are a whole host of other creative strategies that DMOs are employing to attract this growing market, but all of these methods share a few key factors:
1.) They’re targeting Chinese tourists…before they travel: It’s no longer enough to wait for tourists to come to you. Easing the time and effort it takes to get somewhere has significant effect on how many tourists will go.
2.) They’ve gone digital: Creating a Chinese website and presence on Chinese social media provides helpful information and encourages tourism from Chinese netizens who are in the first stages of researching their trip.
3.) They’re localizing: Though most Chinese tourists enjoy the novelty of foreign countries, many unaccustomed to traveling appreciate being able to travel, get help, and communicate in their own language, online or in person. Making things as accessible and friendly to Chinese tourists as possible ensures positive experiences for them to bring back home.