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Privacy and quality are two key factors that are attracting more and more of China’s wealthy to travel to other countries in search of healthcare services, so say experts in the medical tourism industry.

 
China’s economy is booming among a multitude of those that are struggling so the increasing numbers of Chinese citizens benefitting from this growth is increasing greatly, which can help drive the medical tourism industry.

 
Around 60,000 of the annual outbound visits from China are for healthcare services which is an exponential rise compared to five years ago when this figure was just a few thousand.  Travellers favour destinations such as Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the US, and travel for treatments such as anti-ageing therapy, cancer screening and to give birth.

 
Located in a luxury hospital in Singapore, Parkway Pantai Limited is a private healthcare provider which has seen the potential of China’s inbound medical tourists and is set to open next year for both Singaporeans and those from other countries.  Dr Tan See Leng, CEO, said of China: “Given the sheer population size and evident ageing trend, China’s definitely of great market value for the medical business.”

 
In order to make visitors as comfortable as possible, many hospitals which receive Chinese patients have Chinese-speaking staff as well as offering visa and travel assistance and in-country help centres for potential patients.  These offers help to attract customers where language can be a preventative barrier to travelling.

 
One of the other deterrents is cost.  Even for the most well off in China, lack of private medical healthcare can mean a short stay for a simple procedure can cost hundreds of thousands of yuan.  Although this price is becoming possible for more and more people, so it looks like the medical tourism vehicle is just starting to gain speed.

 

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As the US Visa discussion continues (described in an earlier post), more experts are chipping in their own takes on potential benefits of eased rules, sizing up the volume and impact of the Chinese tourists’ colossal spending.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Travel Association urged the government to overhaul its visa system, saying it serves as a virtual “keep out” sign.

Chinese travelers are among the world’s biggest spenders. snapping up Louis Vuitton LVMH bags and jewelry at Tiffany & Co in the world capitals they visit.

They are set to overtake their Japanese counterparts as the second-largest luxury spender behind the United States within a few years.

“Quite frankly, the Chinese tourist is today the dominant influence in the gateway cities,” Polo Ralph Lauren Chief Operating Officer Roger Farah said on a call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday.

“Our sales at duty free are mindboggling,” said Bernd Fritz, chief executive of the perfume company Coty.

source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/26/us-luxury-summit-visas-idUSTRE74P6RO20110526

Dr. Adam Wu, chief operating officer of China Business Network, attended last week’s Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica, visiting a region where the Chinese government has already made several substantial direct investments and plans more.

Wu said Chinese tend to travel in groups and like to sightsee and visit multiple destinations. He offered some the following tips to those seeking to cater to the Chinese market:

• Convey your message in Chinese. While 60 million Chinese earn an annual income over 20,000 USD, only 10 million people can speak English.


• It’s best to market online (incorporate your site onto World Travel Online). Most Chinese travel professionals depend on the Internet to research and book travel. Plus, there are more Internet users in China (457 million) than the U.S. has in total population (311 million).

• The Chinese population doesn’t generally have access to the Internet accessed by the rest of the world, so marketers need to use the China Wide Web, the country’s own Internet.

• Marketers need to educate Chinese operators on (unfamiliar to them) local brands.

[tweetmeme source=”astronauttravel” only_single=false]

Sources:

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles.aspx/5534/Chinese-supply-demand-making-waves-in-Caribbean
http://lhonline.com/news/china_caribbean_investment_development_construction_tourism_marketing_0516/

North Queensland Tourism picks Canto-pop stars to promote the region’s beauty to Australia’s fastest-growing tourist market

The Twins pop stars, Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung

The Twins will appear in social media and TV campaigns promoting the Great Barrier Reef and Cairns. The stars have been filmed in music videos and photos at various tourist destinations.

“The Twins have already come over to Cairns to shoot their new music videos and have done photo shoots for their online photo album,” said Tang.“There will be a TV program that will debut the girls’experience in the region as they work on their videos.”

“They will also give their fans updates on China’s Twitter site Weibo to promote their experiences in the Great Barrier Reef region.”

On May 18, the Twins officially launched their new music videos and promote their 10th anniversary via video conference from Shenzhen, China.

[tweetmeme source=”astronauttravel” only_single=false]

Sources:
http://www.cnngo.com/sydney/visit/oz-tourism-finally-gets-it-right-canto-pop-bait-123715#ixzz1MakQuEW7
http://www.qutnews.com/2011/05/11/qld-tourism-hopes-chinese-twins-a-star-attraction/

The US Embassy in Shanghai has set up a pilot project for group visa interviews for Chinese nationals at the end of last year – a move that will shorten US Visa application times.

This is in response to Chinese travel agencies’ call for a simplified visa process and a larger quota in order to match the growing demand of Chinese travellers.

A survey by the United States Travel Association (USTA) of 1,500 travellers from Brazil, China and India suggests that an overwhelming majority of travellers find the US a tough place to visit. An astounding 94% of Brazilian travellers said they found it “somewhat difficult”, “very difficult” or “nearly impossible” to travel to the US. Roughly 80% of Chinese and Indian travellers echoed those sentiments.

“Increasing travel to the United States is the most effective form of economic stimulus supporting communities, injecting billions into the US economy and creating millions of new American jobs,” the report says. “Recapturing America’s historic share of worldwide overseas travel would create up to an additional 1.3 million US jobs by 2020 compared with 2010 and produce $859 billion in cumulative additional economic output.”

The average Chinese tourist spends $7,000 in the US – well above the 2009 average of $2,580 per overseas tourist. Of course, faced with onerous visa restrictions, that tourist is in the minority to begin with: Of the 30 million Chinese who traveled abroad in 2009, merely 735,000 came to the United States.

[tweetmeme source=”astronauttravel” only_single=false]

Read more:
http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/economics/237219/us-urged-to-ease-visas-for-three-giant-markets
http://www.visabureau.com/america/news/19-01-2011/us-embassy-in-china-seeks-to-streamline-us-visa-process.aspx
http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2011/05/14/2011-05-14_roll_out_the_welcome_mat.html#ixzz1MZPI6eIJ

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.

China’s granting of approved destination status to Canada earlier this year will allow potentially millions of Chinese travellers to more easily visit Alberta.

But it’s not just the majestic Rocky Mountains that are putting the province on the global map. Alberta’s petroleum industry and its oilsands are making Wild Rose Country world famous and drawing big-spending business clientele, according to tourism operators.

Find out more here.

Sites such as eLong let Chinese travelers book air tickets online. How will the online booking market be affected by Google’s recent purchase of the software company ITA?

eLong is Expedia’s exclusive affiliate in Asia (http://www.elong.net/aboutus/index.html), and in terms of shares and votes, is owned by Expedia. In addition to Expedia’s majority control of eLong, an online travel agency (OTA), Expedia’s TripAdvisor unit operates two media brands in China, daodao.com and kuxun.cn. (http://www.tnooz.com/2010/06/01/news/expedia- increases-its-stake-in-china-online-travel-agency- elong/)

“We expect limited financial impact of Google-ITA on Expedia, given only about 12 percent of Expedia’s revenue is from air and with ITA, Google will also become a source of qualified leads for OTAs (similar to Kayak),” said Naved Khan, an analyst at the brokerage firm Jefferies & Co.

In terms of current exposure to Google search, Khan said his analysis using comScore data shows that search phrases on Google containing four common search terms related to air bookings — Air, Air tickets, Flight and Flight Tickets — generated 1 million clicks to Expedia sites in Feb, representing less than 5 percent of total clicks to Expedia from Google search. (http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/132765/20110411/exped ia-online-travel-agencies-google-ita-software-nasdaq- stock-market-buy-rating-expedia-com- hotels.htm#ixzz1K1h3Bms0)

By means of this post, we invite you in on a conversation with Mr. Josef Stockinger, Director of the Austrian National Tourism Office in Beijing, who outlines the major trends among Chinese outbound tourists.

The New Trend for Chinese Travelers

In addition to (high velocity) group travel and (free spending) delegation travel, individual travel is the newest emerging trend, rising in popularity among the educated and higher-income bracket Chinese. These intrepid applicants pass Austria and other Schengen states’ rigorous visas requirements, including personal interviews at the embassy. For maximum enjoyment and safety, they prefer to travel with family and friends and plan their itineraries meticulously, sometimes by the hour (!), with plenty of “face giving activities” (seeing famous buildings and sites). For example, these tourists go to theatres and concert halls, but not for a performance.

How would you like the Chinese to experience Austria?

Mr. Stockinger would like to see Chinese tourists interact with the locals, taking the opportunity to have a conversation in a coffee shop, for instance. And to take a moment to relax, not dashing from place to place.

While the mind shift is still in the future before tourists believe that a vacation can be a vacation, hopefully one day, after paying the VIP price for a European coffee, and after having finished the cup, the visitor will go on to take a quiet moment to linger and mellow… and to take in the ambiance that he or she has just paid for.

a mellow moment

We thank you for taking a quiet moment to linger upon our blog. We hope you enjoyed this as well as the first and second posts in this series.

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.

China outbound tweeds

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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