The cases are packed. The flights, trains and buses are booked, and the cars have had a polish, in what will be another period of Chinese tourism en masse. Aside from the Spring Festival, there’s no bigger movement of Chinese travellers than the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day-Golden week combo which starts tomorrow. Unlike Spring Festival, when the vast majority of Chinese return home to family, this break is for leisure travel. Between now and October 7, tourist operators from Amsterdam to Auckland will see a good share of the 94 million Chinese travelling overseas this year. Chinese have become the world’s biggest spenders on international tourism, dropping $102 billion last year, 40% more than in 2011; and they’ll be spending up a storm over the next few weeks.
While the holiday period is especially a boon for hotels, airlines, tourism operators and luxury retailers, it is also an opportunity for the Chinese to show the world that there’s more to them than noisy, bus-hopping tour groups. As China’s global importance and connectedness increases, the Government understands the value of soft power and how its army of tourists can be some of the best, or worst, ambassadors it has. The 15-year old kid from Nanjing who defaced an ancient sculpture in Egypt, although abominable, may have done China a favour. He appears to have been the catalyst for the latest Government initiative to educate Chinese about behaving better overseas. National TV has been broadcasting nightly clips enlightening Chinese tourists about what’s appropriate abroad, and new laws should encourage travellers to respect local customs and traditions a little more.
Well-behaved or not, Chinese travellers are going to make a massive impact globally. President Xi Jinping believes 400 million Chinese will travel abroad within five years. By 2033, Boeing are banking on Chinese airline fleets growing three-fold. As tourist operators, there are plenty of quick wins and longer term initiatives to capitalise on the growth, raising awareness with tourists and improving their experience – encouraging them to spread the word online and offline. Likewise, for products and services targeting consumers in China that are not directly related to tourism, some smart marketing can create brand ambassadors of visiting Chinese who will have a positive affinity with your country, and by association, with your brand. There’s no shortage of opportunities.
For our China-based readers joining the masses on holiday, we hope it’s a great one. In the meantime, there are some good insights below to think about on the beach. Go to Page 2 to see this week’s China news and highlights.