China has been the fastest growing outbound tourism market in the world for the last 5 years. In 2018, the Chinese spent $ 277 billion on travel abroad, which puts them in 1st place as World Tourism Spenders, far from USA (2nd) with $ 144 billion. Always in 2018, more than 70 million Chinese traveled outside Greater China (= China + Hong Kong + Macau + Taiwan), of which 10-12 million came to Europe. Of these, it is estimated that just over 180,000 came to Greece.
The Chinese who travel to Europe have a nicely balanced seasonal demand. First quarter 22%, 2nd quarter 26%, 3rd quarter 28% and 4th quarter 24% for at least the last 3 years. They are also in high demand at the end of January-early February (Chinese New Year), early May and mid-October (Golden Week).
China is a huge market. The tourism marketing approach targets cities, not the whole country, not even a whole province. In a total of 34 Provinces, 14 out of them have a population of 40 million to 100+ million. Really big sizes, different culture, different “operating system”. So, on the top of patience, a comprehensive marketing plan is needed in order Greek tourism to penetrate into the Chinese market.
Greece's geographical location allows it to be the gateway for tourists from Asia and this is something Greece should take advantage of. The Greek tourism product mix can satisfy the Chinese tourist, provided the added value - as expressed in terms of service - is tailored to the particular characteristics of the Chinese. Thus, there is a need for a minimum preparation of tourism businesses and professionals, through training seminars and service certification.
The outbound Chinese tourism approach requires actions at 3 levels:
- preparing the offer,
- attracting demand and
- institutional interventions.
Preparing the offer
Preparation needs to be made at both destination and business levels.
Indicative and not restrictive: information guides, shopping guides, maps, menus, etc., all in Chinese (no Google translation please...). Web presence is essential: webpages, not only in Chinese, but also hosted in China. Furthermore, China's social media are completely different from the Western ones and have a different culture. Creating and managing both webpages and social media cannot be done outside China. The Administrators must be in China and have a deep knowledge of the market.
Being active at public relations level is good, but not enough.
Two things immediately needed: a. market research in China's Travel Trade (ie 2-3 cities at most) and b. designing for tailor made Chinese friendly tours.
They are mainly concerned with visa facilitation procedures. Also, whatever actions are planned to take place in China, the presence of the Ministry of Tourism is essential.
In conclusion, if action is taken immediately, then YES, Greece can attract 500,000 Chinese in one year and easily reach 1 million in two years.