Paris Issues Vaguely Patronizing Guide On How To Serve Chinese Tourists

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Paris art not quite at its best in the illustration accompanying the website’s section on Chinese tourists.

France currently reigns as the top travel destination of choice for wealthy Chinese travelers, and the city’s tourism office hopes to keep it that way with a new advice site they’ve launched which attempts to provide advice to businesses on how to serve this key group.

The website “Do you speak touriste?” was launched by the the Regional Tourism Council of the Paris Chamber of Commerce to provide information for Parisians on the basic travel habits of 11 different nationalities, including the vitally important category of visitors arriving from China.

However, the “advice” section of the site features generalizations about this increasingly sophisticated segment of travelers that are less than helpful at best, and tend to come across as downright patronizing in some cases. It states the obvious by declaring that they appreciate “friendly and efficient staff,” and are “avid luxury shoppers,” and then goes on to say that they “have an idealized and romantic vision of Paris,” and “a simple smile and a ‘hello’ in their own language will keep them more than satisfied.”

Paris may soon see that it needs to step up its efforts to stay at the top of its game as more and more locations worldwide are devising new strategies to court Chinese travelers. According the website itself, less than half of its Chinese visitors want to return within one to two years after they’ve been there. In addition, the city has some major crime issues that are dampening the “romanticization” of the city, according to Quartz:

Chinese tourists have “an idealized and romantic view of Paris,” according to the guide, but that might not last for long. Violence and robberies have started to dent enthusiasm for France, and the City of Lights in particular, long a top tourism destination for the Chinese. In March, after a group of 23 Chinese tourists were robbed at Charles De Gaulle airport, China issued a travel advisory warning its citizens not to “carry wads of cash around or show off their wealth” when visiting the city. The Chinese embassy in Paris says they’ve been getting more complaints about robberies.

Add to these issues Zadig & Voltaire’s blatantly racist comments last October that their new hotel “won’t be open to Chinese tourists,” and it’s clear that Paris must not rest on its laurels if it wants to remain a premier destination for this group of visitors.

However, more useful for businesses is the site’s collection of statistics offered on Chinese travelers’ activity and spending habits. For example, it covers the average time they eat meals (they start eating dinner much earlier than Japanese visitors, for instance), their average stay time (6.7 nights), and their average amount spent (€171 a day, 40 percent of which goes to shopping).

Even more interesting is the fact that the stereotype of Chinese tourists mainly arriving on giant tour buses is inaccurate for the majority of visitors, since only about 16 percent visit through organized group travel. Other useful numbers are the facts that 9 out of 10 trips are business-sponsored, and 32 percent of the visitors are traveling alone.

The chart below (in French) features an overview of their spending habits:

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