Chinese tourism and the opportunities for Italy
From our office IC&Partners Asia
In recent years, the higher income of the Chinese middle class, the cultural influence of Western countries in China and the increasing number of international flights are contributing to the expansion of the Chinese tourism abroad, making China the leading country of origin of travelers in the world.
In 2015, the total number of Chinese tourists who have traveled in Europe was $ 3.5 million, an increase of 16% over the previous year; of these, 1.4 million Chinese travelers have traveled to Italy. However, between October 2015 and March 2016 there was a decline in the number of Chinese outbound travelers in Europe, mainly due to security concerns following recent terrorist attacks.
Chinese tourists often visit Italy for a few days, putting it among the destinations of their European trip, after visiting other countries; the current ranking of the main European destinations for Chinese travelers see Italy in second place after France that can boast a better range of airports and a greater number of air links with China.
An important element for the Chinese in the choice of tourist destination is the ease with which they can obtain an entry visa. For this reason, several countries are speeding up the bureaucratic procedure for the issuing of visas and are favoring the issuance of multiple entry visas with a longer expiry date: having the opportunity to return with the same visa, Chinese tourists will no longer be forced to move quickly between visiting them tourist destinations for a few days, but be able to plan more trips and stay longer in the places of interest to them.
The Italian hospitality system presents some elements of weakness in welcoming the Chinese tourist: in particular, the shortage of staff who speak Mandarin, the Chinese-language information on the internet (increasingly used by the Chinese to find out about the resorts) and personalized services (for example, the water boiler or the Chinese breakfast). Another major problem is that Chinese tourists perceive as low the level of security of the Italian cities, and fear, in particular, they can be victims of theft.
The destinations visited by Chinese tourists in Italy are mainly the most famous cities for their historical and artistic heritage and for shopping (Milan, Florence, Venice and Rome), with the result that about 86% of arrivals from China focus in Veneto, Tuscany, Lombardy, Lazio and Emilia-Romagna, while other regions continue to be little-known by Chinese tourists.
In recent years, the majority of Chinese tourists abroad is women (approximately 60%) and is prevalent in the age bracket between 25 and 44 years. Furthermore, the Chinese tourist market is mainly based on organized trips but since a few years is growing rapidly on individual tourism, although it has not yet reached the group travel numbers.
More and more Chinese (especially younger and more highly educated) prefer to directly choose their own itineraries without the support of tour operators: the new trend is the tourist “explorer”, who wants to confront exactly the reality of the place visited, and try authentic experiences, out of reach of the classic Chinese tourist traveling to following a group.
Another important factor that you should consider is the increasing popularity of Internet in China: online platforms are increasingly the channel whereby the Chinese tourists book their trips, often using a smart-phone.
Moreover, the Chinese social media (most notably the popular WeChat) are now part of the travel experience and one of the first demands of the Chinese tourists when they arrive in the hotel is Wi-Fi so you can connect to the internet, share photos with friends and family, exchanging information and advice on the trip.