Space trips open for (wealthy) Chinese tourists

SXC Space - Shanghai Travelers ClubChinese travelers will be able to take space trips by the end of 2014 thanks to an agreement signed on Friday in Beijing between a Chinese travel agency and Netherlands-based space tourism firm Space Expedition Corporation (SXC).
Travelers will pay a minimum of 580,000 yuan (about 95,000 U.S.dollars) to board the Lynx Mark I spacecraft produced by the U.S. private aerospace company XCOR, said Zhang Yong, chief executive officer of Dexo Travel, a Chinese travel agency focusing on high-end travelers.
Participants will receive one week of physical training at Royal Dutch Airlines or Air France before their space trip, said Zhang.
“The spaceship only carries one tourist, who sits in the co-pilot seat, and a pilot astronaut,” he said.
“The spaceship arrives in outer space 60 minutes after its take-off and will fly in space for 20 minutes while the tourist enjoys the view of the earth and space,” he said.
The Lynx Mark I spacecraft, which is expected to begin flights in the fourth quarter of 2014, will take participants into sub-space to a height of 60 km. The Lynx Mark II spacecraft, which is expected to start flights in 2015, will take participants into space to a height of 103 km, said Alex Tang, CEO of SXC Asia.
A total of 100 travelers will board the Lynx Mark I. There will be no quota for the number of participants on the Lynx Mark II, said Tang.
As Chinese customers have shown great interest in space trips, SXC has reserved at least six spots for Chinese on the Lynx Mark I, he said. The prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine (a China Elite Focus publication) has been among the first luxury travel magazSXC Space - Shanghai Travelers Club 2ines in Chinese mandarin to publish an article about SXC Space flights in its Fall 2013 issue, that has sparked the interest for space flights in the community of High Net Worth Chinese. ” Our wealthy readers have discovered that having a luxury car or a diamond-encrusted watch was not the ultimate luxury lifestyle experience anymore. Getting in space was more exciting – and not that expensive”, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus and Publisher of the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine.
The spacecraft is constructed of lightweight materials and is powered by common bio-fuels and reusable rocket propulsion. The engines are designed for more than 5,000 flights, instead of just one, which is a breakthrough in the history of rocket development, according to the SXC official website.

Wealthy Chinese buy their dream houses in Silicon Valley

Wealthy Chinese Businessman- Shanghai Travelers ClubSilicon Valley is booming, and the Chinese are starting to cash in on the region’s housing craze.
With tech stocks surging and IPOs sprouting up left and right, the area is in the midst of a real estate bonanza that’s attracting a wave of buyers from China.
The average price of a home in Silicon Valley has surged more than 27 percent over the past two years, according to home purchase data from Santa Clara County.
Technology executives, budding entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are putting their money to work in the Silicon Valley real estate market, and they are finding new competitors from around the world, especially from China.
Ken DeLeon—named by The Wall Street Journal as the country’s most successful real estate agent—said he has done close to $300 million in sales this year and that the market has never been hotter.
DeLeon said that in the past year he has sold more than 20 luxury residences in the Palo Alto area to buyers from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Most of those buyers are looking for houses in the $2 million-plus range, he said.
Business is so brisk that the agent recently bought a Mercedes bus to shuttle his Chinese customers around the valley.
Advertisement Tower - Gervois Hotel Rating May 2017 featuring Pierre GervoisThey are serious buyers, he said, adding that several have bought modest houses on a decent-sized lot, then undertaken ambitious renovations. Some tear down the house, dig a deeper basement and add several floors.
“The Chinese know there is good appreciation potential in this market, and buying here provides diversification for their real estate holdings,” said DeLeon, the president of DeLeon Realty.
The trend goes beyond Silicon Valley. The National Association of Realtors recently said the Chinese are now the second-largest group of international homebuyers in the U.S., behind Canadians. The same study said the Chinese are particularly interested in Northern California.
Real estate agents and builders said Chinese demand is just another reason housing prices continue to rise in Silicon Valley.
Fred Lam of Alain Pinel Realtors in Palo Alto said his Chinese clients want brand-new, furnished houses made with high-quality building materials. Lam has done close to $40 million in sales over the past year and said he’s seen a definite increase in the number of Chinese buyers in Silicon Valley.
General contractors and builders also have benefited from the influx. One Silicon Valley builder, who asked not to be identified, said Chinese buyers typically want big media rooms, marble moldings and high-end finishes.
Real estate professionals said Chinese families are drawn by a better way of life, with the biggest selling points including the weather, excellent local schools and much less smog than in Beijing.

Source: CNBC’s Mark Berniker and Josh Lipton.

Categories of Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists visting the Palace of Versaille in FrancePhotos of the Great Wall of China covered in tourists as thick as ants on a forgotten picnic treat often causes laughter over the plight of the domestic Chinese tourist. There’s a feeling that this is an isolated incident strictly within the borders of the Middle Kingdom. But this is no longer the case. Outbound tourism from China to international destinations is increasing at a speed as turbo-charged as that of its economy, and they are a force to be reckoned with.
And this reckoning is far from a bad thing. With tourist dollars an essential part of many economies, the Chinese tourist is something to be coveted, especially as they now outspend Americans and Germans as the world’s “most exuberant tourism spenders” with a record $102 billion spent last year alone. According to the  Wall Street Journal, “more than 83 million Chinese traveled overseas in 2012,” with the UN World Tourism Organization predicting that Chinese nationals traveling abroad “will reach 100 million by 2015,” these numbers are very real, and could potentially be very beneficial.
But in order for this to be beneficial, tourist industries and communities as a whole need to embrace the Chinese tourist and learn how to cater to their needs so as to make a bigger profit. During the recent Golden Week at the beginning of October for the Chinese National Day Holiday, the Chinese arrived in herds at tourist sites the world over. But they aren’t just taking group photos and seeing the sites, they’re also shopping. And wow they do shop.
Recently at an Oxford Street The Body Shop in London’s poshest shopping district, a group of Chinese tourists were buying basketfuls of a variety of lotions and creams. When interviewed, a Miss Li from Shenyang admitted that she was happy to spend so much money (the bill came out to approximately a third of her month’s wages) because these gifts were unique and unable to be purchased in China. Certainly creating an exclusive and location-based product is a great way to reel in those renminbi, its also important to understand the different types of Chinese tourist.

BUSINESS — The Chinese business tourist is a growing group, as many Chinese entrepreneurs are looking to learn new skills and expand their businesses outside of China. These tourists come either as groups to a conference, investment research trips, or as individuals with specific goals in mind. As visa restrictions ease for this type of tourist, this means more and more are traveling in smaller groups. These smaller groups, while allowing for more freedom of movement, also leave more opportunity for miscommunication and misadventure.
Mr. Qin, who recently traveled to New York on business, was disappointed that his hotel did not have any information on their menu in Chinese, and ended up going across town to eat low-end Chinese food at exuberant prices. He would much rather have stayed at the hotel and enjoyed a drink at the bar, but with his lack of English skills he felt it was easiest to go the Chinese route.
These tourists are also usually very big spenders. With gifts to purchase for various contacts, family and friends, these shoppers tend to stick to well-known big-name brands like LV, Chanel and the like. One Nanjing businessman rather frankly admitted that he went to LV to purchase the necessary handbags for his wife and his mistress respectively .
While most business tourists are not traveling purely for pleasure, there is more and more interest in experiencing more of the world on their travels, so more Chinese language informational materials would be a boon for any hotels, restaurants or shopping areas that would care to use them. With several luxury travel magazines already available in Chinese Mandarin, such as the Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine, an iPad magazine for the wealthy members of the super-elitist Shanghai Travelers’ Club, Chinese businessmen have a greater knowledge of the sophisticated boutique hotels and little known luxury brands.

STUDENT — Traditionally overlooked as poor and uninterested, the Chinese students overseas are increasingly at the higher end of the pay scale. With Confucian custom combined with the single-child policy, parents with even a meager affluence will dote extensively on their children, especially when they are in college. Kyle, An MBA student from Shanghai studying in London commented that he spends around $5,000 per month on living expenses alone.
The rise of the wealthy Chinese overseas student has obviously been noticed by schools the world over, with specialized language-learning courses available at many institutions. Amongst the “student” group is also included the executive training programs that work either independently or with such venerable institutions as the Harvard Business School. While some would argue that these courses water down the brand, it has not yet affected the many millions that Chinese are willing to spend on these courses.

ADVENTURE — A new and growing sector of Chinese tourist is the young backpacker or sports adventurer. Scuba diving, mountain climbing and hiking are all growing areas, and as Xiao Fan, a scuba enthusiast from Beijing says, “these are a great way to travel with a group but experience things that are more personal than simple tourist destinations.”  Famed backpacker Mr. Gao from Beijing also points out the rising number of people interested in individual travel, though these tourists tend to head to Southeast Asia and Africa, where the cost is significantly cheaper.
The increasing convenience and accessibility of international travel has lead to more individuals setting off on their own, and even the poorest amongst them, Mr. Gao remarks, is willing to spend $1,500 – $3,000 on shopping alone.  What they save by traveling on the cheap they then put towards the purchase of items they don’t have access to in China.

DANWEI — The word for “work unit” in Chinese, the danwei system of China’s yesteryear has transferred itself into the more modern forms of corporate culture quite neatly. A danwei-organized overseas trip is a treat not just because it is traveling on the company’s dime, but also because it guarantees easy visa access. More importantly, its a way to kills two birds with one stone: making the boss and the company look good while also getting a chance to go out and see the world. It is important to note that these tourists often get these travel opportunities as a reward for previous achievements and company loyalty.
More importantly, these tourists are more willing to part with their cash as they aren’t paying for their every day expenses. A quick survey of recent danwei travelers resulted in an average of $6,000-$10,000 per trip. This is a large number considering that the average white collar salary is around $1,000/month. But as many consider these danwei trips to be their only opportunity to travel overseas, they are willing to spend more.

LOCUST — And finally, the infamous group tourist, shuffling around 10 cities in 5 days, rampaging through tourist site to tourist site, doing the requisite “selfie” in front of various monuments and then moving on. And don’t forget about the forced shopping that is an intrinsic part of these tourism schemes. These types of tours are the main target of the new tourism laws in China, and admittedly the tour organizers are more to blame than the tourists themselves.
A quick search on Sina’s for the slogan “cultured tourism” results highlight more examples of the negative than the positive, with the exception of of various tourism bureau accounts, and this in part could be blamed on the lack of individual responsibility in group tourism. (That and the one child policy creating a generation of parents who can’t control their children — see painful images of children running amuck on famous and obviously poorly protected stonework at the Forbidden City.)
Traditionally, international tourism for Chinese citizens relied heavily on group tours, in part due to visa restrictions, in part due to the general fear that many had of the strangeness of the non-Chinese world. And while these horrid group tours are still the majority of international tours, there’s a growing trend of the more discerning tourist.
But with Xinhua predicting that China will become the largest tourist market for the U.S. by 2018, these aren’t numbers to ignore. Sure, its easy to poke fun at the recent 64-page pamphlet created by the Chinese Tourism Ministry using a somewhat patronizing tone to guide Chinese tourists how to be more “culturally aware,” but this effort is admirable. As many surveys still point to the British or American tourist as being the most poorly behaved, perhaps the English-speaking world should take a page out of this Chinese book, a Dick and Jane Go Overseas series maybe?
Whether a humble group tourist from a third tier city or an executive looking to invest in overseas projects, the Chinese tourist is willing to spend, and spend big. What the world needs to do now is better prepare themselves for this new breed of tourist, perhaps starting with the phrase: 欢迎光临 huanying guanlin (“Welcome!” in Mandarin).

Source: Forbes

Chinese confuse Sweden with Switzerland

Chinese toutists in switzerland - China elite focusThe two European nations – one known for its chocolate, cheese and watches; the other for Ikea, Volvo and the Seventies pop band Abba – have often been confused for each other among the Chinese.
The problem largely stems from the fact that both nations’ names are written similarly in Mandarin – Ruidian (Sweden) and Ruishi (Switzerland) – which begin with the same symbol, according to the Swedish Consul General Victoria Li in China.
In an effort to put an end to the mix-up, the Swedish and Swiss consulates in Shanghai have launched a competition on the Swedish Consulate website, asking Chinese people to come up with funny ways to help differentiate the two countries. Submissions can be accepted as a blog post, cartoon, photo, short film or in any other format.
The winner with the best submission will receive a 12-day trip to Sweden and Switzerland and will be expected to report back on their impressions of both countries following the trip, the website states. Entries will be accepted until November 20.
The organisers have also devised a humorous campaign logo portraying a montage of objects and people associated with Sweden and Switzerland on separate maps of each country.
Sweden’s map features meatballs, a Viking, Pippi Longstocking from Astrid Lindgren’s books, as well as two male cartoon figures with a heart between them symbolising gay marriage, which remains illegal in Switzerland. Switzerland’s map features cheese, fondue, the Alps and a picture of Roger Federer.
China may not be the only country struggling to tell Sweden and Switzerland apart. Residents of Spanish-speaking countries also fall victim to the confusion as Sweden is spelt ‘Suecia’ in Spanish while Switzerland is called ‘Suiza’.
Sweden and Switzerland aren’t the only destinations that have caused confusion among travellers. Last month, a British holidaymaker hoped to explore the architecture of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, but instead mistakenly caught a flight across the Atlantic to the tropical Caribbean island of Grenada following a confusing booking blunder. Earlier this summer, two US holidaymakers were flown to the wrong continent after an airline confused two airport codes.
The misconception between Sweden and Switzerland isn’t the only incident for which Chinese tourists have recently come under the light. Last month, Communist Party tourism chiefs issued a “Guidebook for Civilised Tourism” urging first-time Chinese travellers to cut back on poor behaviour including public displays of nose-picking, swimming pool-soiling and the discussion of pork in a bid to improve the country’s image overseas.
China was the biggest spender in international tourism last year, overtaking Italy, Japan, France and Britain, and is the world’s fastest-growing tourism source market, according to the latest figures from the World Tourism Organization earlier this year.

Chinese tourists love cruises

Chinese tourists cruising - China Elite FocusChinese tourists are beginning to shift their gaze from the landscape on the mainland to the blue ocean, after China’s tourism administration decided to make 2013 the Year of Marine Tourism. A variety of marine holidays are driving new demand.
A voyage on a cruise ship is gaining popularity among Chinese tourists. At the beginning of this year, Henna, the first passenger liner based on the Chinese mainland set sail from Sanya, marking China’s entry into the world cruise ship tourism market. At the same time, cruise liner giants including Royal Caribbean, Star Cruises and Costa are stepping up their offers in an attempt to attract Chinese customers.
In October SuperStar Gemini, a 50,000-ton passenger cruise vessel of Star Cruises, started its first trip from southeast China’s Xiamen city to Taiwan. According to official statistics, more than 40,000 cross-Strait passengers travelled on 23 cruise liners this year.
In November, China implemented new measures easing sailing restrictions to support border tourism projects by the passenger liners cruising between China’s Hainan Island and Vietnam. Under the new policy, all Chinese citizens can use an entry and exit permit that can be applied for in Sanya and Haikou to join a cruise.
China is ahead of other markets in the growth of cruise ship holidays. During the six years from 2006 to 2012, the number of voyages made by international cruise vessels departing from Chinese mainland ports or carrying Chinese passengers grew sevenfold.
Cruise ship tourism may contribute an estimated 51 billion yuan (nearly 8.4 billion U.S. dollars) to the Chinese economy by 2020. Currently, more than 10 cities along China’s coastline have built or are planning to build world-class hubs for cruise ships.
China has five major coastal tourist resorts – on Bohai Bay, in the Yangtze River Delta, in the Pearl River Delta, on the coast on the west side of the Taiwan Strait, and on Hainan Island.
At present, China’s marine tourism industry focuses on sightseeing, health vacations, water sports, adventure, and pop-science. Leisure fishing and cruise voyages will complement the overall structure of China’s marine tourism.
Coastal tourist resorts are trying to combine culture with natural scenery. Southeast China’s Fujian province is carrying out pilots to incorporate the Hakka culture and sea silk culture in its marine tourism programs. Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Institute, suggests that the marine tourism industry should try to capture the attention of the younger generation with innovative cultural ideas.

Harrods boss criticises Chinese visa proposals

Chinese tourists Harrod's - China Elite FocusThe boss of Harrods, the prestigious London department store, has warned that proposals by the Coalition to simplify visa applications for Chinese tourists are “smoke and mirrors”.
UK retailers have pressed the Government to overhaul the Chinese visa system because of concerns that the UK is missing out on spending to other European countries.
However, Michael Ward, the managing director of Harrods, said that measures unveiled by George Osborne, the Chancellor, during a trade mission to Beijing are likely to have little impact.
Speaking at a breakfast for the chief executives of luxury brands organised by trade body Walpole, Mr Ward said the Chancellor’s proposals were “smoke and mirrors” and would not help wealthy tourists travelling independently.
Business leaders have warned that the UK is losing £1.2bn of sales each year because Chinese visitors are put off by the complex visa process. Tourists travelling to Europe from China must apply for a separate UK visa alongside the Schengen visa system, which is cheaper and allows Chinese tourists to visit more than 25 other countries in the EU including France.
In October, Mr Osborne introduced a new pilot scheme that will allow tourists to secure a UK visa by only submitting the EU’s Schengen visa.
However, the scheme only applies to selected Chinese travel agents and Mr Ward said the proposal will “do nothing” because the government in China is clamping down on tour groups.
As part of a corruption crackdown, Chinese authorities have passed a law restricting tour groups because of concerns that the tour guides were taking bribes to take visitors to certain places.
Mr Ward said that regulations should boost the UK, but that it means the visa proposals will have minimal impact.
The Harrods boss said that most of the company’s Chinese shoppers were young consumers travelling independently of tour groups. “The Chinese consumers are very young, aged 20 to 25,” he added.
Giles English, the co-founder of watchmaker Bremont, also called for the Government to streamline the visa process for Chinese visitors.
“Anything that makes it easier is only going to help us all,” Mr English said.
The UK China Visa Alliance, which has led calls for the system to be reformed, has calculated that only 6pc of Chinese visitors to Europe obtain two visas, while 85pc obtain only a Schengen visa and just 9pc get a UK visa.
Source: The Telegraph, article by Graham Ruddick

Parisians issued advice on how to deal with Chinese tourists

Chinese tourists in Paris - China Elite FocusParis, one of the world’s major tourist destinations for Chinese tourists, has issued new information to advise its citizens on how to deal with Chinese tourists. “A simple smile and a greeting in their language satisfies them completely,” the guide issued by the Regional Tourism Council of the Paris Chamber of Commerce reads. “Rouanne ing gouang linne” is how it tries to explain the intricacies of saying “welcome” in Chinese.
“They are avid shoppers of luxury brands,” it explains the habits of the one million Chinese who visit the French capital every year. “They are picky about food and wine. They appreciate ingenious shopping suggestions,” it notes.
The guide titled Do You Speak Touriste? helps Parisian hoteliers and taxi drivers, known for their rough charm, with audio files on how to ask non-French speaking tourists about their desires. The guide also includes 10 other nationalities.
Fewer Chinese tourists are coming on organised bus tours, as 84 per cent now visit the city individually.
The average Chinese tourist spends six to seven nights in the most visited city in the world and forks out 171 euros  per day there – that is 31 euros more than the average American and 15 less than the average Japanese.
The city, however, has run into difficulty trying to attract more middle class Chinese tourists.
A sharp increase in robberies of Chinese tourists in Paris has prompted calls to boost security in the capital. Muggings had increased 10 per cent over the last year.
Last autumn, a Parisian hotelier caused outrage when he said his hotel would not serve Chinese tourists, because of their bad manners.
In an interview in late September, Thierry Gillier, the founder of French clothing firm Zadig & Voltaire, said of the company’s plans for a new exclusive hotel in Paris, “we are going to select guests. It won’t be open to Chinese tourists, for example.”
He has since apologised.
Despite this, most Chinese remain enchanted with the city of lights. Almost 47 per cent of visitors from China say they wish to return to Paris within two years, according to the tourism council.