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One of the places tourists can visit on the Buddhist Train (www.buddhisttrain.com)

China’s outbound tourist numbers are growing at an exponential rate with travellers flying all over the world for shopping, safaris and health treatments.  But when it comes to India, only about 102,000 Chinese people travel there – less than 0.21 per cent of the total number going abroad.  This is a tiny share of the massive $40 billion that is spent overseas each year by Chinese tourists.

 
India Tourism are getting spiritual to help them succeed in the future by launching a campaign which targets China’s fast-growing Buddhist population and asking them to ‘visit India and reconnect with your faith’.

 
The ‘Buddhist Circuit Train‘ stops along several pilgrimage sites in northern India and has been open since 2007.  Over the course of a week it takes travellers to a number of cities related to Buddha’s life from New Delhi to Nepal, where Buddha was born.  India Tourism and the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (ITRCT) are promoting this to Chinese Buddhists as a way to reconnect with their faith in comfort, and hope that it will help the dwindling tourist numbers. Since there are up to 200 million followers of Buddhism in China, if even a small percentage of this number travel to India, it would boost tourist figures dramatically.

 
The campaign launched in China on Monday with Rakesh Tandon, managing director of the IRCTC addressing a number of Chinese tour operators and travel agents.  Mr Tandon assured the audience trains would be “safe and fully air-conditioned”, hoping to put potential travellers minds at ease about the idea of going to India – two of the biggest concerns are lack of safety and the climate.  “India is blessed to have a lot of pilgrimage sites connected with Buddha’s life,” and India Tourism hope that they will be blessed with a bigger chunk of Chinese travellers following this campaign.

 
Original article at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2650921.ece 

The Turkey booth on the Beijing International Tourism Exhibition (BITE) was one the booths which got the most interest due to a huge 3D Bosphorus Bridge image and Blue Eye wishing tree.

Turkey was enthusiastically welcomed by the crowds at the eighth Beijing International Tourism Exhibition, held on June 17-19.

Features of the Turkey booth

Bosphorus Bridge

The Bosphorus Bridge in Instanbul is a major tourist attraction, linking East and West. The Turkey booth featured an 11 meter long Bosphorus Bridge 3D image and drew hundreds of photo-snapping visitors into the booth.

People on the 3D image looked like they where standing on the Bosphorus Bridge linking Europe and Asia. Headline on the background says “Turkey, More than Europe, more than Asia.”

Turkey staff also took photos, which will be posted onto Turkey’s Official KaiXinWang account, for visitors to download. Turkey’s Kaixin Wang platform also hosts Turkey travel news.

Blue Eye Wishing Tree

Another crowd-pleaser was the Turkish traditional nazars (blue eyes). Visitors wrote their holiday wishes on blue eye stickers and posted them on a wishing tree. Every day after the event the tree was chock full of stickers and needed to be cleaned for the next day.

The Turkey event was a popular attraction, drawing hundreds of people who took photos, made wishes and left their email addresses.

The BITE booth was home to six travel agents, Turkey Culture and Tourism and Turkish airlines. Astronaut Travel was responsible for finding and planning the event. The booth was built and installed by Astronauts partner agency Zhongjia.

The Beijing International Tourism Exhibition is China’s biggest and most important travel show. For more info about the BITE, click here.

China, Japan, and Korea held the annual Trilateral Tourism Ministers’ Meeting at Pyeongchang, Korea, two days ago. This post contains the highlights, as reported by Arirang and YONHAP News.

The ministers agreed to develop 10 “golden tour routes” running through the three countries, and report the outcome of the project at next year’s meeting in Japan.

The three countries also agreed to strengthen cooperation to minimize the negative effects that natural disasters, terrorism and diseases have on tourism, while jointly developing special tourism promotion programs and a crisis management manual.

source:
http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/business/2011/05/29/51/0502000000AEN20110529002700315F.HTML

The ministers agreed to work towards establishing the “Tourism Vision 2020” plan, a blueprint for opening up an era of major tourism exchange between the three East Asian countries in the year 2020.

They also vowed to monitor unfair activities like selling low-cost dumping package products.

China and Japan’s tourism ministers pledged support Pyeongchang’s plan for its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

source: http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_View.asp?nseq=116466&code=Ne2&category=2

BBC has almost completed a 30-second commercial featuring the country’s famous attractions, said Nguyen Van Tinh, head of the International Cooperation Bureau under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The three-month campaign could start in next one month and the commercial will be aired three times a day, bringing into focus the country’s beautiful beaches and sea tourism services. Mr. Nguyen informed that it will be broadcast on BBC in key markets, notably Asia Pacific.

The campaign costs around 150,000 USD. The Vietnam tourism sector this year will spend less on commercials on international TV channels because its entire marketing and advertising budget for all of this year is a mere 1.7 million USD, down from 2 million USD last year.

Read more in the VietNamNet Bridge article here.

[tweetmeme source=”astronauttravel” only_single=false]

Japan recieved two Chinese tour groups in Kyushu and Kansai regions Friday, the first group travel to Japan from Chinese mainland since the March 11 catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. These familiarization trips are part of Japan’s active efforts to restore its tourism industry.

Hiroshi Mizohata Commissioner of Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) traveled to China and South Korea in early April, meeting government officials, media and travel agents. The two countries made up about 40 percent of all foreign tourists visiting Japan in 2009 and Chinese tourists are regarded as the biggest-spending among foreign visitors.

The company has sent people to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong to make sales calls and invite media and travel agencies to visit Okinawa and Hokkaido.

Meanwhile, Shinkansen bullet train services on the disaster-stricken Tohoku Shinkansen line fully resumed Friday, the first day of Japan’s Golden Week holiday season, between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori for the first time in 50-days since the mega earthquake and tsunami.

On the popular Rakuten website’s travel page, a large number of popular Onsen hotels in the Tohoku region are shown to be fully booked during the Golden Week holiday.

Read the full Xinhua news article here.

The Philippine Embassy in Beijing reported that the Philippines was hoping to double the number of tourist arrivals in the Philippines from three million to six million by 2016. It’s expected that China, as a close neighbor of the Philippines with the largest number of outbound tourists in the region, will be a key source of these arrivals.

Although in 2010, more than 200,000 Chinese travelers visited the country and with an annual growth of 18 percent China is one of the fastest-growing markets for Philippine tourism, last years hostage drama and the bad conditions of NAIA 1 airport will make achieving the high task more difficult.

Further articles from the Global Nation Inquirer and the Asian Journal.

This article reports on an interview with Mr. Josef Stockinger, director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in Beijing. It is the second in a three part series, and follows last week’s post.

The typical modes of travel popular among Chinese tourists today is knowledge indispensible for anyone in the tourism sphere, and very revealing.

Chinese Tourists’ Preferred Modes of Travel

The first is group travel, mostly trips in the flavor of 10 days and 8 countries. These are largely first-time Europe trips or life-time trips, and are incredibly cheap trips, where money is made on shopping commissions. There are some countries that are always included on these trips’ itineraries: Italy, Switzerland, and France. Then there is the golden triangle of European cities: Prague, Budapest, and Vienna. Few trips are mono-destination trips.

Then there is delegation travel, which is business tourism, requiring formal invitations. These tourists have characteristic shopping preferences. They love picking up foreign produced brand names, rather than the products that are produced in China. Image is what counts. As stark evidence of this fact, there is a factory in Italy in Prato, where 50,000 Chinese are employed making un-China (!) origin brand name products.

In Mr. Stockinger’s estimation, most European countries don’t have the budgets for building image. Rather it’s celebrities that create impressions. Figures such as David Beckham do much more than PR campaigns to promote their countries.

Tourism Line-Up of the Countries of Europe

In the conglomerate of Europe, each country has its unique tourism image and rank. Number one among tourism destinations is France, renowned for its products of fashion, perfumes, wine, and romance. Second reigns Italy, famed for fashion. Third is Germany, known for cars, and for the chance for intrepid tourists to step onto the autobhnen. Fourth is Switzerland, known for watches and chocolate. (Belgian chocolate is in another, non-competitive category, being more refined.) Switzerland additionally adds appeal by accepting the Schengen visa and having royalty, which is good for gossip. Austria is about the number five destination. It’s image is based on music, Swarovski crystals (though originally of Bohemian origin), Princess Sissi, and the Sound of Music. Britain earns points for attracting many Chinese students.

A strong influence on tourism is the price of visas. This has a very significant impact on the travel choices of price-conscious Chinese tourists.

We invite you to look up this blog next week to read about the third type of Chinese tourism.



Japan is actively promoting its tourism in China, with impressive success. This post outlines Japan’s efforts and results, as described in the Japan Times.

Promotional Efforts

Visas

In July 2010, the Japanese government lowered the income bracket requirement for granting visas to individual tourists from China. In July 2009, Japan had begun granting tourist visas to high-income individual Chinese.

Promotion of Hokkaido

A tip of the hat in thanks from Japan goes to the hugely successful 2008 Chinese movie, “If You Are the One,” set largely in picturesque Hokkaido, a northern island of Japan.

In September 2010, Hokkaido held a three-day event at the Japanese Pavilion in the Shanghai World Expo. In August 2010, the hot-springs resort area of Atami held a promotional week at the Expo.

Chinese Credit Cards

As of the end of April 2010, about 17,300 stores and facilities across Japan accept the Chinese UnionPay credit card. In addtion to businesses in major cities, more establishments in Hokkaido and Kyushu are making the move to accept the card.

Well Worth the Effort

The number of Chinese tourists to Hokkaido in 2008 was 47,400 (an increase of 75 percent over the previous year), and officials saw a similar trend in 2009. In comparison, visitors to Hokkaido from Taiwan and South Korea in 2008 were 227,600 (down 18 percent) and 139,100 (17.8 percent) respectively.

The Japan Times reported in 2010, that each Chinese tourist on average spent at least 30% more than other tourists.

With Chinese customers’ penchant for items made in Japan, purchasing products like US$75 and US$800 pantyhose and US$450 to US$900 basic beauty products, some are ringing up purchases of US$15,000.

Average purchases with the Chinese UnionPay credit card are US$45,500, three times more than Japanese average credit card purchases. A VenusFort general manager reports the average Chinese credit card purchase to be twice the typical amount a Japanese customer spends.

Looking Ahead

Future proposals for Japan to cater to Chinese visitors include installing Chinese language signs on streets and public transportation and hiring interpreters. Japanese businesses are seeking to bridge the culture gap, including table manners, food preferences, and how to use hot springs.

Source: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100617f2.html

Shopping in Japan picture source: Larry R. Lom

Japan has always been a hotspot tourist destination – with beautiful cherry blossoms, Mount Fiji looming on the horizon, tranquil Zen gardens, natural hot springs, and delicious seafood delicacies, people flock to Japan by the millions. This is also true for Chinese tourists, but not for the same reasons – Chinese are traveling to Japan to purchase, purchase, and purchase. The new generation of young Chinese white collar workers are looking to go to Japan to buy electronics and other products and is leaving the site seeing to the grandparents. The reason for the increase of shopping visits to Japan according to Zhang Qin, a Beijinger and seasoned shopper, is because of quality. Chinese are also wary of buying fakes instead of legitimized products in China. The increase of this new breed of Chinese tourists is warmly welcomed by Japan as they are relaxing their visa requirements for Chinese citizens. This news also brings Japanese retailers a sigh of relief, as Chinese who go to Japan put serious dents in their wallets. The value of transactions made on ATM withdrawals from Chinese debit cards, the amount increased from 2.7 billion yen in 2007 to 20 billion yen in 2009 – and there have been speculation that this number will quadruple in the next 2 years. The Chinese seem keen on spending all over the world,  from Europe to Japan –  there is no stopping the Chinese from saving the world’s otherwise stagnant economy.

While the lazy sun lingers ever so slightly above the strikingly blue waters, a velvety pink sunset paints the skies as you wiggle your toes on the sun-kissed soft white sand – Welcome to the Boracay Islands of the Philippines. Wish you were relaxing in the sun instead of reading this in your austere and monotonous office? Too bad you’re not Lilyan, a Shanghai native, who bought a boat along with her husband and moved to the Islands in pursuit of relaxation and sun. Both husband and wife were once power players on the Shanghai PR and media scene, but decided to leave it all behind when they vacationed on the islands – and with good reason; Boracay easily rivals the best sand beaches around the world with its sand so refined and white it is often endearingly called “milk powder sand”. Coming from the country that originated Confucianism, this “leaving it all behind” ideal is nearly unheard of in China, but with the rise of new age thinkers such as Lilyan, it is growing to be more and more common and with gleaming waters rivaling the blue skies, it’s easy to see why anyone would leave a concrete jungle for this paradise. Lilyan and her husband now reside in Boracay and offer tours on their boat, Mahal, for a two hour sunset excursion of the island. The island itself offers a variety of nautical adventures, from scuba diving and jet skiing, to sailing and wind surfing. There are now direct flights from Shanghai to Kalibo International Airports which mean just one short three hour flight for Chinese people looking for paradise.

Source: Shanghai Daily, Xinhuanet.com,

picture source: www.visitphilippines.com.cn

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Michael Kaltenhauser

Founder and director of Astronaut, a marketing agency based in Beijing which is specialized on promoting destinations to Chinese outbound tourists

Laura Hine

Online Communications Assistant at Astronaut