- Posted by Newsdesk
- On 7th August 2015
- arlt, brussels, cotri, welcomechinese, workshop
The Welcome Chinese Workshop in Brussels last 13th June brought together a range of stakeholders of Chinese outbound tourism to the Benelux.
Mr. Guo Jianjun, Economic and Comercial Counselor’s of the Chinese Embassy in Brussels, opened the session and welcomed participants. He confirmed the significant increase of Chinese tourists to Europe with an average growth 20 % each year and the need to adapt to the service standard for the Chinese travellers.
Eduardo Santander, CEO of the European Travel Commission (ETC), gave insights of the Chinese outbound tourism market. He highlighted that almost 10 million Chinese will visit Europe in 2015, a 128% increase in Chinese arrivals to Europe in the period 2010-2015.
He drew the attention to the fact that Europe is the place for shopping although Chinese travellers remain price conscious. In addition, it has been proved that they look for authenticity but also for Chinese food & local connections to China. He stressed that there is an increasing segmentation of the market and thus different profiles to cater for to which businesses must adapt.
Jacopo Bertoli, CEO of Select Holding, presented Welcome Chinese certification. Welcome Chinese is a certification issued by China Tourism Academy to certify the service standards of foreign travel related businesses.
He talked about their partners and the service they provide. After touching upon the range of certification categories available, he shared a wide list of benefits that certified companies received, highlighting the marketing and promotion programme. Welcome Chinese also offers training and information programmes, provided by COTRI under the direction of Prof Wolfgang Georg Arlt.
Mr Bertoli pointed up to the new features of their upcoming website, in which certified companies will be able to manage their profile themselves.
He ended the presentation by highlighting the many marketing actions they have carried out across the world, such road shows and fairs, and pointed up at the attention that the media have drawn.
Ms Julia Gessner, CEO of GeLiConsult and COTRI’s country partner for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg, focused in the different segments of Chinese tourism and deliver specific data regarding these countries, with special attention to Belgium.
Prof Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), talked about the Second Wave of China’s Outbound Tourism to Europe: Keeping pace with changing customer behaviour. After a brief presentation of COTRI services, customers and partners, he gave a few historic insights. Prof Arlt affirmed that traveling has been an important part of the education process in Imperial China, but outbound travel has no tradition. Outbound tourism started in the 1990’s, and since 2012 China has been the biggest international source of tourism in the world and became necessary part of lifestyle and consumption pattern of affluent Chinese. In addition, if we consider expenditure, the Chinese share is even more impressive.
Prof Arlt announced recent figures regarding Chinese tourism:
‘62 million Chinese crossed a border in the period January-June 2015’
Looking at the future, Chinese outbound travel will still grow despite economic slowdown as it is not a holiday but an “investment in getting education, respect and prestige”. In that regard, students should not be underestimated as “150.000 Chinese are studying in Europe, being educated on travelling”
As Eduardo Santander mentioned earlier, segmentation is getting gradually more complex, with a sliding scale ranging from busy and thick packages to backpackers.
Chinese ever-changing patterns of planning and booking, fuelled by social media and turning towards independent travel, might lead companies that have not adapted to the trend to miss out. At national level, short term bookings are benefiting countries with a visa-waiver policy or those that facilitate long-term visas.
Regarding shopping, Prof Arlt has highlighted the motivation for shopping: buying gifts for relatives, friends and colleagues, evidence of the trip, prestige and resale on internet.
Looking at the future, second wave travellers are more open to suggestions, but also more confident and demanding than ever. In order to satisfy them, one needs to keep the balance between treating them as international citizens and still showing respect to the Chinese culture. Prof Arlt affirms that Welcome Chinese certification is a major step to achieve that feeling.
After the presentations, the audience had the opportunity to introduce themselves an ask questions to the panel. Attendants were interested on the impact of certification, the diplomatic relations between Hong Kong and China and there was a more in-depth discussion over the impact of Visa policies.