Chinese tourists – Are we ready? View from the Chinese side
“Localize not standardize”
Last week I had a chance to visit China after 4 years. I don`t know if it is me or China, but every time I come back (this was my 3rd time) I feel really like at home there. Being a tourist there (actually, business tourist, since I had several meetings there) made me wonder to explore Chinese tourism also from the Chinese point of view. So meetings with two tour operators; one from Chengdu and one from Shanghai brought forward a lot of interesting points. Tour operator in Chengdu covers basically whole Sichuan province and in 2017 they organized tours to Europe for over 6000 Chinese tourists. Tour operator in Shanghai covers mainly Shanghai area and in 2017 they organized tours to Europe for approximately 1000 Chinese tourists. Of course, the majority of Chinese tourists in both regions still prefer the neighbour countries such as Thailand, due to low travel expense and good flight connection. However, it is not a surprise that those, who choose Europe as their destination, choose France as a number one destination. They do not only visit France; they also visit other countries on the same tour. This year they rather choose to visit 3 countries in 8-10 days (instead of 8-9 countries in 10 days as previous years). What are the preferences of Chinese tourist when travelling to Europe (and Slovenia is as a part of the tour)? Do they want that we standardize everything according to their needs? What is their travel experience in Slovenia?
Chinese tourists want to experience the country`s story, history and get the unique local experience. They don`t expect that everything is standardized according to their habits. However, they expect hot water (which is honestly said really low expense for hotels and destination) and map in the Chinese language, that they can get at the reception of the hotel. In the previous article and at Confucius Institute training there was a lot of discussion about providing Chinese breakfast. When taking with Tour operator`s managers, they said that the majority of Chinese tourist are used and expect the European standard breakfast, however, they are also willing to pay extra to get the Chinese breakfast. They expect accommodation to be in the city centre in reasonable prices (with EU standard breakfast) and reasonable level (at least 3-4 stars). They see Slovenia as an expensive country (comparable with the size of other countries in the tour), not so much for flight ticket and accommodation, rather the price of getting the authentic experience such as wine tasting or visiting the main attractions such as Lipica Stud Farm. That is also one of the reasons why they don`t stay long in Slovenia.
Advice from the Chinese side?
Trend »training and sightseeing« is also rising in China so there is an opportunity for Slovenia to offer cooking classes, wine classes, etc. In order to prolong their stay, Slovenia should offer more localized experience, one idea was also renting Slovenian homes, so Chinese tourists can truly see its uniqueness comparing to other countries.
About the Author
Darja Saksida Bogataj, Senior Project Manager, Confucius Institute Ljubljana