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I. Chinese Tourists: a future goldmine for France?

Figures show the importance of Chinese tourism


A recent report published by the Oxford Economics firm for Amadeus, revealed that China could surpass the United States and become, in 2014, the first market for travel abroad and the first internal market by 2017. The country could reach 20% of the global market by 2023. But what do these clients really represent in France? TourMaG.com investigates…



In 2013, 97 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad according to figures from the Tourism Administration of China - © phloxii - Fotolia.com
In 2013, 97 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad according to figures from the Tourism Administration of China - © phloxii - Fotolia.com
In 2012, China became the world's largest source market in terms of tourist spending, of $102 billion USD spent on trips abroad, according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) .

A figure multiplied by eight since 2000.

Big spenders, especially when it comes to shopping, especially of French designers, the number of Chinese tourists is constantly evolving.

In 2013, 97 million Chinese tourists traveled abroad, according to figures from the Tourism Administration of China. And they should cheerfully surpass the 100 million mark in 2014.

"The rapid urbanization, the rise of disposable income and the easing of restrictions on abroad travel explain the soaring number of Chinese international travelers," explains the UNWTO.

Another key fact: the Business Council of Chinese has published a series of "Guidelines for tourism and national recreation (2013-2020)," to encourage the Chinese to take paid vacation.

The objective is primarily to encourage the "government agencies, social organizations, industries and public institutions to promote the use of paid leave" to their employees, an act that was not part of the cultural norms before.

A low attendance but of great potential

However, if the number of Chinese tourists is growing exponentially, it is still to be put in perspective.

For now, more than 90% of their trips are in the Asia-Pacific area, according to the “Institut de Veille Touristique of Canada.”

Of the remaining 10%, Europe leads as the most visited region, followed by the Americas.

Among the most acclaimed European destinations include France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, according to a study published in 2012 by Maison de la France on the tourism potential of the Chinese middle class in Europe and France.

"France could potentially welcome 1.8 million of these Chinese tourists by 2013/2014,” the study reports.

A figure that remains low compared to the 83 million foreign tourists in France in 2012, according to data from the General Direction for Competitiveness, Industry and Services (DGCIS.)

"Despite its great potential, Chinese tourists remains very low at the moment in France, says Brigitte Bloch, Director of Regional Tourist Board (CRT) of Aquitaine.

90% of tourists in France are French and European. Followed by the Americans. Chinese accounted for only 0.3 % of all tourists in 2012.

Obviously, based on the number of foreign tourists, their proportion is increasing. It is more important than that of Canadians or Australians, but we still have much work to do for France to become a single destination.

Precisely, 80% of Chinese tourists coming to Europe are coming for their first visit. On their ten day tour, they will spend up to 3 nights in France and in Paris specifically."


A quickly evolving customer base with high purchasing power

Atout France notes, however a change in the number of repeaters. "The ordinary organized travel to Europe is moving towards more individual formulas, including 2-3 destinations (or even one) for a period of 6 days on average," the study raises.

Moreover, between 2012 and 2013, the number of overnight stays in France increased by 40%, according to DGCIS.

In Ile-de-France, in particular, "38% of Chinese tourists are repeaters, explains François Navarro, deputy CEO of CRT Ile-de-France.

It is a very strong growth and in constant evolution, which was facilitated this year by the introduction of the 48 hour visa to individual Chinese visitors."

Another revealing figure: 80% of Chinese tourism in France is absorbed by Paris and Ile de-France, due to arrivals in the capital’s airports.

But "while Paris remains the leading destination, a new interest is emerging to theme-based destinations such as wine (Bordeaux, Burgundy), events (Nice Carnival, Festival of Lights in Lyon), monuments (Castles of Val de Loire) or combining natural and cultural heritage (Mont Blanc, Provence),"insists Atout France.

On the French Riviera, for example, Eric Golden, President of the CRT, notes the arrival of “repeater” customers, younger than the traditional “group” customers.

"These are tourists interested in the fine dining and who are looking for more upscale services, especially in terms of accommodation."

A customer base that is quickly evolving with a high purchasing power, which should prompt French tourism professionals to adapt accordingly. The investigation is ongoing...

DON'T MISS IT: Tomorrow TourMaG.com will draw you the sketch of the profile of the typical Chinese visitor, and will give you the keys to win him or her over!

Written by Anaïs BORIOS translated by Joséphine Foucher the 12/05/2014
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