Europe enjoyed a good performance of its tourism industry in 2012 as total arrivals grew by 3.5% last year. “With 476 million international tourist arrivals, Europe is the world’s largest destination, representing a 50% market share worldwide. This share might slightly shrink due to the strong growth of arrivals to other continents-especially Asia. But we will still remain a dominant force in the years to come”, explained at an ITB Press Conference Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission.
ETC comprises 33 National Tourism Organisations in Europe comprising most of the continent’s largest countries except France, the UK and the Netherlands which recently left the Commission. ETC has been attributed with a budget of one million euro to muscle its presence abroad, especially to overseas countries. Its website “visiteurope.com” was recently revamped and a new campaign done in partnership with the European Commission was also launched. “Ready for Europe” which showcases the wide variety of Europe through its arts, architecture, nature and landscapes might however miss its target – at least in Asia- due to its vagueness.
“We might have to adjust the campaign for some markets such as Asia where we still need to better understand what are the expectation in terms of product and image when talking about Europe”, admited Eduardo Santander.
ETC’s new strategic campaign towards long-haul markets will target in priority four markets: Canada, the USA, Brazil and China.
China has been identified as one of Europe’s fastest growing market segments. A study was recently released over the Chinese Outbound Market, made in conjunction with the UNWTO. ETC looked also at the Chinese profile. A netnographic study -“the Mind of the Chinese Traveller”- analyzed Europe’s perception as well as Chinese travellers’ behaviour through the prism of blogs and social media.
A China Day conference was also organized last November in Copenhagen while a similar conference will be organized at the end of October in Beijing. “We now need to recognize the specific status of Chinese travellers across Europe. It means that we should add more signs in Chinese in international areas, have more Europeans trained to speak mandarin, identify Chinese restaurants in cities as a majority of Chinese look only for their own food and develop specific products. We still have a long way to go,” recognized ETC Executive Director.
“The Chinese travelers coming to Europe today are very different than the first Chinese independent leisure tourists that came five years ago” said Pierre Gervois, Publisher of the prestigious Shanghai Travelers’ Club magazine, a publication for Chinese High Net Worth Travelers. Mr Gervois Added “The old stereotypes about Chinese tourists are no more valid: they now want to stay in the best suites of Paris and London most prestigious hotels, and don’t want to hear anymore about budget hotels!”
The ETC and Tripadvisor signed also during ITB a cooperation agreement paving the way to promoting Europe around the world.