A new report by the Tourist Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences released yesterday confirmed that China’s massive number of outbound tourists became even bigger in 2013, with 97 million traveling abroad. This number surpassed last year’s mark by 14 million people, and caused Chinese tourists to comprise 75 percent of overseas travelers in Asia and Europe, according to the report. In addition, the number is expected to climb above 100 million in the coming year.
Although the report didn’t release statistics on how much this enormous group was spending this year, Academy director Song Rui told Xinhua that when figures on overseas spending become available, there will “definitely” be a new record by Chinese tourists. Outbound Chinese tourists became the world’s biggest-spending travelers in 2012 with US$102 billion spent overseas, and local businesses across the world are bending over backward to attract these high-spending tourists. Here are some of the main actions tourist-centered industries have taken to appeal to Chinese visitors:
Special amenities to make Chinese visitors feel at home are becoming commonplace at luxury hotels throughout the world now. Chinese-language materials, Mandarin-speaking staff, Chinese menu items, in-room tea kettles, and free slippers are a few of the amenities being offered across the world. One of the first hotels to do this was Hilton, whose global Huanying program offered Vivienne Tam-designed slippers. Some hotels around the world have also been joining retailers in celebrating Chinese holidays. The Peninsula goes all out for Chinese New Year, and just started celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival in select global locations as well.
Luckily for retailers, luxury shopping is a major pastime for Chinese tourists, especially because imported goods are so much more expensive at home. Jewelry, watches, clothes, and accessories are top items of choice for Chinese travelers. Retailers across the world are adopting a host of services for Chinese travelers, including Chinese-language services and Chinese payment systems such as UnionPay. Special marketing campaigns include decorations and special products for holidays—especially the upcoming Chinese New Year—as well as campaigns on Chinese social media. For retailers’ ultra high-end VIPs, free international trips to shop and learn about product heritage are not uncommon, and airport chauffer service can bring wealthy travelers right to a store’s doorstep.
In order for hotels and retailers to benefit from Chinese tourists, it helps for them to have local organizations doing everything they can to market certain locations. As a result, tourist organizations have been setting up more offices in China and engaging in China-specific marketing campaigns, often with the help of Chinese celebrities. Chicago plans to open a tourism office in Chengdu that will become the city’s fourth in China, and the Los Angeles tourism board recently opened a second China office. One of the most creative examples of a marketings has been New Zealand’s partnership with actress Yao Chen, who has one of the largest numbers of followers on all of Sina Weibo. In September 2012, Yao was married in New Zealand, which generated massive social media, internet search, and Chinese media coverage of the destination. Other recent partnerships have included actress Gao Yuanyuan and Visit California and Wanting Qu and Visit Vancouver.
As can be exhibited by Macau’s success, Chinese tourists love to gamble, and locations such as Australia’s Gold Coast and Las Vegas hope to lure some of those visitors away from the Asian high roller stronghold. Australia’s Crown Casino is building a massive new waterfront complex with the aim of attracting Chinese visitors, while Las Vegas made the list of Chinese travelers’ top 10 Golden Week destinations this fall as Chinese arrivals to Las Vegas rise annually.