Chinese travelers huge biz opportunities to Europe

Updated: 2013-03-09 11:25


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BERLIN -- Forget the busloads of Chinese budget package tourists who rush to European landmarks just for a snapshot, as a new wave of Chinese are seeking niche travel products on the continent and may even buy a neat house in your neighborhood.

Although shopping is still the most important activities during their overseas visits, a rapidly increasing number of higher-income and higher-educated "new Chinese tourists" are looking for more individual experiences and sophisticated travel products that offer high quality services and cater to specific Chinese customs, values and demands.

In addition, an increasing number of well-heeled and travel-savvy Chinese combine their search for investments with a travel to Europe, offering new opportunities for both local tourism service providers and investment service providers.

New Chinese travelers

"The number of Chinese travelers is growing very fast, but their way of travelling is changing too," said Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of the Germany-based China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI).

Many of the visitors, who have visited Europe more than once, may not want to visit the Eiffel tower or the Colosseum again.

"They are looking for more special products, like wine-tasting or playing golf at famous golf courses," said Arlt, adding that they also show more interest of the European lifestyle, as some of them would stay in local families to experience the European lifestyle.

In 2012, Chinese tourists made 83 million border-crossings and spent $95 billion, according to COTRI, which forecasts that 95 million outbound travels and over $110 billion spending in 2013 will make China the undisputed No 1 global tourism source market.

A latest report issued by the World Tourism Organization showed that the highest growth rate in expenditure abroad in 2012 came from China with a 42-percent hike.

Arlt reckons that about 5 percent of Chinese people can afford to travel beyond Greater China area, which equals to the total German population above 14 years old.

The mind-bogging number of new Chinese travelers and their purchasing power have begun to set new trends in the European tourism market, which has long stopped the debate on whether China is an important market and has been vying to woo more tourists from the country.

When Chinese tourists travel to faraway places, they are willing to spend a lot of money on luxury items at lower prices.

However, as first-time visitors to Europe, most of whom come in package tours, still tend to buy famous stuff like Swiss watches and French perfume, the majority of spending power is moving to the free independent tourists who come to get away from it all and are more interested in more personal products like art and health products.

Still, the European tourism industry is still looking for better ways to cater to the tastes of Chinese travelers and provide a perfect holiday.

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