Rio is becoming favored destination for Chinese

Updated: 2014-02-03 06:01

By Zhang Fan in Beijing (China Daily Latin America)

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Rio is becoming favored destination for Chinese

A Brazilian exhibitor at Beijing International Tourism Expo last June at China National Convention Center.The expo is Asia’s leading annual travel and tourism event, which aims to promote international tourism exchanges. Wu Changqing / China Daily

As more and more Chinese travel abroad during the Spring Festival holiday, many choose to take the long trip to Brazil, hoping to explore the land on the "other side of the world".

Cao Ying is one of those. She works as an operation manager at Schneider Electric in Beijing and plans to travel to Brazil with friends in 2014.

"I have been to many countries, such as Russia, Italy and Turkey, but I have never been to any Latin American countries. Brazil is my first choice because it is more convenient to travel there than to other regional countries and its colorful culture really attracts me," Cao said.

She said her friends want to go to Rio de Janeiro to see the statue of Jesus Christ with their own eyes and to visit the local slums if possible.

"We learned about the slums through movies such as Tropa de Elite (Elite Troop). Life there is so different from ours so we want to try our luck and visit there," Cao said.

"And it will be really cool if we can share our experience in Brazil with other friends. People will be jealous of us," she added, smiling.

Besides Cao Ying, several hundred Chinese have booked trips to Brazil during Spring Festival, according to major travel agencies in China.

"We have arranged five tour groups to Brazil for during this holiday, each with about 20 members, greater than our usual size," said Ye Bin, department director for East and Central Africa and South America at China International Travel Service, a major travel agency.

Ye said people want to take the seven-day holiday of Spring Festival as a chance to take a break from their busy work, and Brazil is attracting more Chinese these years because of its various cultural and natural elements.

According to the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism, 66,000 Chinese visited Brazil in 2013 and the figure is expected to increase because of the coming FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games.

"We believe that the World Cup can be a good opportunity to introduce more about Brazil to China and the Olympic Games will attract lots of Chinese tourists. We will provide special packages then to meet the needs of the market," Ye said.

He said Chinese people are getting richer because of the economic development. Chinese who have become very familiar with the United States and European countries are trying to find "special" places to visit.

"Brazil is a good choice for them. For most Chinese citizens, this country is still very mysterious. Its culture of samba and football are of great attractiveness to Chinese people," Ye said.

However, Huang Wei, marketing director of ISA Tourism Agency in China, said Brazil remains a high-end tourist destination for most Chinese.

"It takes about 15 days for a trip and the total price is at least $7,104, much higher than the cost to Singapore and even Europe," Huang said.

About 30 to 50 percent of travel agencies in China have launched packages to Latin American countries, usually combining Brazil and other regional countries, according to Huang.

"For many Chinese, the trip to Latin America might be a"once in a lifetime". They want to visit as many places in one trip as possible. So the travel agencies tend to make such arrangements to meet their needs," Huang said.

CITS also developed such packages to Latin America, the most popular of which combines Brazil and Argentina.

"We must include Brazil in each of our packages to Latin America because whoever goes to Latin America will definitely visit Brazil," Ye said.

However, difficulties remain in further developing China-Brazil travel packages. Though some people are worried about local security, the biggest problem, according to travel agencies, is transportation.

"Domestic transportation in Brazil needs to be further developed. The airlines are expensive and road transportation is underdeveloped," Ye said.

"We have high hopes for the 2016 Olympic Games. All of its competitions will be held in Rio de Janeiro so we do not need to worry about the traffic. With lots of Chinese athletes participating in the Olympic Games, many Chinese sports fans will be attracted to Brazil, which means a huge market for us," he added.