Europe Bets Big on Chinese Tourism but should leave to the States their marketing strategy

Chinese family - China Elite FocusIn a press event hosted by upcoming travel trade fair ITB China and its Chinese joint venture partner TravelDaily China, Europe laid out its plans for greater efforts to boost tourism between China and the EU.

Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission (ETC)—which represents European national tourism organizations—said that the European Commission is making huge investments in the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year. Santander argued that Europe as already reached the “awareness phase” in the Chinese market, and that the challenge now is to enhance Chinese consumers’ understanding of Europe as a destination. Santander also emphasized that Europe needs to understand the Chinese market better, and to look beyond the large cities in East China.

Even though the EU-China Tourism Year still lies a year into the future, efforts are being made to enhance the promotion of Europe as a destination already in 2017. ITB China, the Chinese counterpart of ITB Berlin—the world’s largest tourism fair—is hosting Visit Europe as its official partner destination for the inaugural event in May 2017, and outlined further collaboration during the tourism year in 2018.

The European Commission has also invested in what is called the World Bridge Tourism initiative; an EU initiative carried out by the ETC and the European Tourism Association (ETOA) that aims to grow the number of Chinese visitors to Europe by encouraging stronger business ties between European and Chinese tourism businesses. The initiative includes a conference as well as business workshops that bring European tourism suppliers and Chinese tour operators together, first for two days in Shanghai in conjunction with the ITB China fair, and later in the fall of 2017, doing a similar round of events on European soil. According to Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA, both events will host 150 European tourism suppliers and 100 Chinese tourism buyers. It was also announced that the EU had granted additional funding to carry out tourism workshops in both China and the EU to strengthen tourism ties further. The European Commission, which created the initial outline for the project, as well as funds the project, was also represented at the press event, briefly emphasizing the importance of Chinese tourism to Europe as a region.

But industry experts have a more cautious approach, like Pierre Gervois, Expert in marketing to Chinese outbound tourists, who declared “Europe in itself does not mean a lot for Chinese travelers. A coherent marketing approach should be done at country level, as each European country is so different, with different languages and cultures, promoting at the same time 28 very different countries is a waste of the European’s taxpayers money”

“European countries should promote themselves using their unique cultures.  For a Chinese traveler, you don’t dream on a trip to Europe, but to a trip to Italy and a trip to France, for example”, Mr Gervois added.

While strengthening the European tourism businesses with the help of Chinese tourism is a clear goal of both the World Bridge Tourism initiative and the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year, Santander also underlined that the designated tourism year “goes beyond tourism,” emphasizing the importance of more people-to-people interactions to reduce existing “misunderstandings” between Chinese and European people.

The event also hosted speakers from some of China’s largest tourism companies, including representatives from Jin Jiang Hotels, Ctrip, and Tuniu—all outlining their ambitions for future growth. Jin Jiang, which acquired Europe’s second-largest budget hotel chain, Groupe De Louvre, back in 2015 also has to ambition to expand in the European luxury hotel market. Ctrip, meanwhile, acquired Scotland-based Skyscanner to strengthen its position in the European market late last year. Tuniu, meanwhile, has partnered with ITB China and promises to send a large number of its buyers to the May event—where 40 percent of exhibitors represent European destinations and tourism businesses. While Europe may be looking to China for future tourism growth, it seems like large Chinese tourism businesses are looking to Europe for their own global expansions.

Sources: Jing Daily / ITB / European Travel Commission / ETOA

Advertisements

Old stereotypes don’t work anymore for Chinese tourists in Europe

Shanghai Travelers Club- Chateau de la Barre- Chinese touristsEurope 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.