Challenges for 2018 EU-China Tourism Year
2018 is the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY), and its purpose is to encourage cultural and commercial exchanges between Europe and China by promoting lesser-known destinations and improving travel and tourism experiences for Chinese visitors. In addition, the initiative aims to strengthen opportunities to increase economic cooperation and to provide incentives for quick EU-China visa facilitation and air connectivity.
„European destinations have strengthened their position in this market, attaining 13.4 million Chinese arrivals in 2017, accounting for a share of 14% of all outbound travel from China,“ according to the ECTY.
And Ctrip.com revealed that Europe was the second most-visited continent among the Chinese outbound market in 2017, accounting for 9.3% of total trips. 29% of Chinese travelers that visited Europe in 2017 were aged 50 or older, which shows that Europe has become a regular long-haul destination for Chinese travelers. And interestingly, the top ten countries visited by Chinese travelers were, in order, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.
Chinese travelers have been flocking to Greece too, a country that didn’t make it to the top ten, but the “Customised Travels of Chinese Visitors to Europe” report by Ctrip.com and the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) reveals that the country outshines others in the list of customized tours. The report states:
„With its beautiful natural scenery, pleasant climate, ancient history and rich opportunities for island tourism, Greece is a highly-attractive option to Chinese travelers yearning for romantic adventure and the blue of the Aegean Sea. Chinese tourists visiting Greece are typically young non-package tour travelers, whose customization demands focus on featured hotels, honeymoons and wedding photoshoots.“
150,000 Chinese tourists visited Greece in 2016, up from some 20,000 tourists from China in the years before 2015, and Greece is committed to attracting new Chinese visitors through a variety of programs, including the launch of Athens-Beijing direct flights from September 2017.
To support the EU-China Tourism Year, the European Commission is currently looking for programs organized by tourism-related organizations with a European dimension that underpin the ECTY objectives. The first deadline, set for May 15, 2018, accepted proposals for activities held between August and December 2018. There is a second deadline still open, for events taking place between October and December 2018, and organizations are invited to submit proposals by June 15, 2018.
And there’s more. According to 2012 data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Chinese have been the biggest spenders on international tourism. More recently (2015), the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) estimated Chinese travelers spend more than $200 billion, which is over 17% of the global total of expenditures. The same reports show that by 2019 more than 174 million Chinese travelers will spend more than $300 billion overseas. While the benefits to European economies are clear, the preparedness of these markets leaves room for questioning