Africa needs to do more to attract Chinese tourists

MDG: China in Africa :  Jia Qinglin at inauguration ceremony of the new AU conferenceThe number of Chinese tourists visiting Africa grew to over 1.8 million in 2013, an 80 per cent increase compared to previous years, figures from the National Tourism Administration of the Peoples’ Republic of China show.
However, this figure is largely insignificant when compared to the number of Chinese tourists going to other destinations, including Europe and America.
Statistics show that in 2013, China recorded over 89 million citizen departures.
Last year, Rwanda attracted just over 2000 Chinese tourists, a 57 per cent increase compared to the previous year, figures from the Chinese tourism body further indicate.
Neighbouring Kenya received over 40,000 Chinese tourists in the same period.
In an interview, Xiong Shanhua, the Deputy Director General, China National Tourism Administration, said Chinese tourists are interested in exploring the attractions in Africa but a lot needs to be done to market Africa’s tourism potential.
“Africa remains largely unknown to Chinese tourists despite the numerous tourism attractions it offers,” he said.
“African tourism bodies have to learn how to deal with Chinese tour agencies to market and attract Chinese tourists,” he added.
Rwanda is one of the 19 African countries that have acquired an Approved Destination Status. The status allows the country to receive Chinese tourists.

Francoise Kameni-Lele, President of China to Africa (CTA) the official organization in charge of promoting travel to Africa to affluent Chinese tourists declared” The CTA has done a lot in the last years to raise awareness about the tourism opportunities in Africa for Chinese tourists. We have worked closely with African countries, at President or Prime Minister level to make sure targeting Chinese tourists was a priority”. We have worked with well known media groups, such as China Elite Focus Magazines, to create successful campaigns in travel magazines to showcase the beauties of Africa” Mrs Kameni-Lele added.
Albert Rugaba, the Rwanda Development Board chief representative in China, said Rwanda needs to invest more in tourism marketing and national image branding to attract more Chinese tourists.
“Some institutions are using pre-1994 figures to rank Rwanda, which puts us at a disadvantage. We also need to update the Chinese representatives in Rwanda to ensure that we have a positive security ranking in the Chinese foreign travel advisory ranking,” Rugaba said.
Rugaba says his office has established contact with elite Chinese tour agencies to attract high-end Chinese tourists to Rwanda. Chinese tour agencies choose the destinations on behalf of their clients.
Rugaba said the Rwanda Development Board is developing a marketing strategy for the Chinese market.
Other challenges stifling Africa’s tourism potential, according to Chinese officials, include insecurity in some countries and the lack of direct flights on the China-Africa route. Only six African airlines operate direct flights to China.

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Bringing more Chinese tourists to Africa: “China to Africa” Project is officially launched

A group of the best tourist destinations in Africa have gathered to launch the “China To Africa” Project (CTA)

Gambia, Tanzania and Cameroon are the three founding members of this initiative to increase the number of Chinese tourists coming to their countries, for both leisure and business trips.
As Africa is now a key continent for China in terms of business, trade and tourism, this initiative has been welcomed by the African and Chinese travel & tourism industry.

The CTA President, Mrs Françoise Kameni-Lele (Based in Yaounde, Cameroon), is a well know personality of the African travel industry, with an extensive experience of promoting Africa as a tourism destination. She is currently President of the ATA (Africa Travel Association), Cameroon Chapter and CEO of Cameroon Travel Center. She is one of the very best  international expert in African tourism industry and a consultant for the World Tourism Organization.

The CTA Secretary General, Mr Pierre Gervois (Based in Shanghai, China), is a recognized expert in promoting international tourism destinations to Chinese outbound tourists. He is currently CEO of China Elite Focus Limited, the most experienced marketing agency specialized in promoting international destinations to the new generation of Chinese tourists. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the publication “The new Chinese tourist”.

CTA will open an office in Shanghai on September 1st, 2010 and start promote the tourism to Gambia, Tanzania and Cameroon targeting the new generation of 50 million Chinese outbound tourists. Other African countries are expected to join the CTA project in a close future.The main goal and function of the CTA office is to increase the number of Chinese arrivals (leisure, business and MICE) to the African countries members of CTA, and all activities undertaken by the CTO office in Shanghai will be focused on supporting that goal. 

CTA will assist official delegations from the members countries during their missions to China to meet Chinese high ranked officials in travel and tourism administrations. China Elite Focus will manage and operate the CTA Office. A large social media campaign will be launched to promote African destinations to Chinese tourists.
As Mr Pierre Gervois said ” It’s time for the beautiful African destinations to have a proactive marketing strategy in China and attract the new generation of affluent Chinese tourists searching for exceptional holidays. CTA has the leading role to promote quality tourism in Africa”