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International congress on Asian tourism emphasizes importance of Chinese tourism

BARCELONA, Nov. 24  — Chinese tourism was one of the key elements leading experts talked about at the two-day fourth congress on Asian Tourism that concludes here Tuesday.

The event aims to address how to attract Asian tourists. Speakers discussed how the tourist industry in both Spain and in wider Europe should be adapted to the Chinese clients.

Xu Jing, regional director for Asia and the Pacific at the World Tourism Organization (WTO), explained how Chinese habits and culture were different from those of other societies, which implied different needs within the tourist sector, for example, having hot water, free wifi, or following certain rules of protocol.

Xu also encouraged tourism services use Chinese social media instead of Western social media channels in promotion, an opinion shared by Antonio Li, director of the Center for Tourism Promotion in China of the Tourism Catalan Agency.

“We send our newsletter via WeChat,” he said of the free messaging and calling app used by 570 million users that is popular in Asia.

In line with this, the congress organizes training workshops on Asian tourism covering the topics of Japanese and Chinese protocol to both assist tourists and promote destinations on Asian online platforms and social networks.

The importance of Chinese tourism lies especially in the large number of visitors and the high spending in destinations. “It is the second largest economy and the most highly populated country in the world,” Li highlighted.

Meanwhile, one professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies, Kevin Latham, said, “we are dealing with the fastest growth” of the Chinese market now and it is expected that this year outbound tourism will reach between 130 or 135 million people, 4.7 million will visit Europe, which is “becoming increasingly important.”

Latham explained that the reason for this was increasing wealth among China’s middle class, the relaxation of visa regulations, more direct flights, and the rise in the number of Chinese students studying abroad.

According to him, location is very important for Chinese visitors, who hope to visit more than one country when they travel to Europe, while familiarity and reputation are also factors that influence their choices.

Spain received 289,000 Chinese visitors in 2014 and according to Latham, this number is “on the rise” as the country expects 300,000 Chinese visitors this year. In Barcelona, the number of Chinese visitors increased by 29 percent in 2014 when compared with a year earlier.

Courtesy Xinhua Net

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