The UK and other European countries are lacking smart marketing strategies and visa policies that would make their tourism sector more attractive for the richer Chinese visitors, writes tourism expert Roy Graff. While there is no shortage of buses full of Chinese tourists, participating in cheap European trips, the more lucrative sector, the more wealthy Chinese, are not feeling welcome.
Even when countries sign the ADS agreement, it only applies to group package tours. Anyone who knows a bit about modern China knows that wealthy people in the big cities now do not want to travel like cattle in mass market tour groups.
It was already 2.5 years ago that experts at the ChinaContact forum on China’s tourism industry at World Travel Market concluded that Europe (and North America) should focus its attention and marketing budget on the luxury travel segment from China.
Some Asian countries like South Korea, Singapore, Japan and Thailand are successfully tapping into that segment of tourists, Europe is still on the wrong track.
The UK government has announced a review of visa policies and are considering whether joining or partnering with the Schengen Visa agreement will work…
I am not confident that the Schengen Visa approach is the right one since currently only the UK among European countries is demanding biometric data at origin. The complicated visa procedure (with forms only available in English) requires the applicant to visit the visa processing centre in person. This can be an additional inter-city trip, the cost of which (and the visa application fee) is non-refundable if application is ultimately unsuccessful.
We should remember that visa policies and the behaviour of consular services in China are part of the image of the country and how Chinese first judge us. If we want Chinese to visit us byRoy Graff by Fantake via Flickr
choice (as opposed to a delegation or business visit) then we need to roll out the welcome mat, not roll up the barricades.