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On October 11, the Tirol Tourist Board and their partners Bayern Tourism Board, Innsbruck Tourism, Air China and Munich Airport held an event in order to promote the region of Tirol, in the heart of the Austrian Alps.

Over 45 guests attended the event, representing Chinese tour operators, Austrian local travel agencies, the German and Austrian Tourism Boards.
Astronaut assisted in organising the event in Beijing, ensuring that it was a success.


On October 25, Visitbrussels, in collaboration with Wallonie-Bruxelles Tourism, Leon Restaurant, Magritte Museum and Brussels Centre for Fashion and Design, held a breakfast meeting in Beijing to promote Brussels as a business, conference, meeting and tourist destination.

Held at Beijing International Trade Hotel, 30 guests from all Beijing’s major travel agencies and 7 representatives from the media were welcomed to the meeting, which was themed “Belgium: one country, three regions”, by Belgian ministers Benoit Cerexhe and Van Raes.  In their speeches, the two ministers outlined Belgium and its capital city, Brussels, and highlighted their hope that Brussels would become the next hot destination for Chinese tourists.

Astronaut assisted Visitbrussels and its partners with the organisation of the event.  They invited targeted guests, produced promotional materials such as translated brochures, created business cards for the hosts and ensured the entire event was on-brand.

From among a variety of agencies Astronaut Travel was chosen to represent the Polish Tourist Organisation in China until the end of 2012.

Astronaut Travel has won the open tender to be the Polish Tourist Organisation  to implement publicity measures in the Chinese market, taking over the PTO’s online promotions, PR, events and fam trips to Poland.

Starting from July this year, Astronaut will represent the PTO at events in key cities in China, running promotional campaigns from its headquarters in Beijing as well as its second office in Shanghai.

Previously promotions were organized directly by the Tourist Organisation, operating from Warsaw. The official PTO office in Beijing is better positioned to operate in the Chinese market, and will  provide services in Chinese, Polish, and English.


Polish Tourist Organisation
Beijing Office

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.

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.

This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Josef Stockinger, the director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in Beijing, about China’s outbound tourism, current trends and the changes that are taking place.

Mr. Stockinger has been working in the tourism industry for 29 years and for the Austrian tourist office for nine years.

How has Chinese outbound tourism changed since the time when you began to work in this field?

Tour groups are a very popular way to travel and are proving to be the medium for many Chinese to go abroad. In the past, opportunities were more limited to ADS (Approved Destination Status countries), business, cultural exchange and people’s friendship trips. 公费 travel (at one’s company’s expense) is still popular, but not as it was.

Current trends

It is difficult to accurately gauge travel trends, due to the nature of statistics. (For example, Honk Kong and Macao are included in what’s termed “outbound travel” for China, and “day-traders” who move across the boarder are counted as outbound tourists and when they visit towns on the Russian side of the boarder with China, they are counted as visiting Europe.) Yet there are apparent trends. Europe has a small share in the travel cut for Chinese outbound. The US and Australia (the first Western ADS country) are strong in attracting tourists, and money on Chinese tourism is not made by the local hotels or restaurants. As yet, Chinese tourists are still too frugal to allow those sectors to make a profit. Group trip pricing is incredibly competitive between agencies and accommodations are accordingly cheap. Intriguingly, the money that is made is traded between Chinese hands. Chinese agents work with Chinese organizers abroad, dealing with tourists and earning commission for shopping and with deposits. Agencies sit on large sums of cash while tourists are wandering abroad and are free to invest the funds until their clients’ return.

Mr. Stockinger identifies three types of China outbound tourism. Please revisit our blog next week to read about these types of tourism and for the continuation of this story.

Hallstatt, Austria

UK Retailers are Urging the Government to Simplify the Visa Process

The majority of Chinese people travelling to Europe apply for a Schengen visa, which enables entry to the 24 European countries that have signed the freedom of movement agreement.

The UK is not party to that agreement and a separate visa is required, necessitating a personal visit to one of 12 application centres in China. Application forms are 10 pages long and have only just become available in Mandarin.

UK luxury retailers are pressing the government to tackle visa bottlenecks for Chinese tourists, claiming bureaucracy is causing shoppers to shun London stores in favour of centres such as Paris and Milan, reports the Financial Times.

Retail spending in the UK from Chinese visitors topped £350m last year, according to Global Blue, a financial services company, but retailers including Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason argue this could be far higher if the UK visa process was simplified.

Global Blue estimates the visa application procedure could rob luxury retailers of £165m of sales during the next two years.

the Harrods store at night

The glittering Harrods department store, Knightsbridge, London


The Schengen Area comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985. The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes with border controls for travellers travelling in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls.


The Euro has depreciated nearly 20 percent against the Yuan since 2009 – which means Chinese are planning trips to Europe to buy name brands at a “discounted” price. Name brands, such as Louis Vuitton, a Chinese favorite, are now cheaper in Europe than on the mainland including Hong Kong, an otherwise very popular place to shop for the pricey goods. According to an avid shopper, Li Yaoyi, “A 1,000-euro purse now costs about 8,000 yuan, which is about 1,400 yuan cheaper according to the converted price paid for the commodity in the same period last year”. The depreciation of the Euro has sparked numerous of trips from China to Europe, especially in the months of July and August, which has increased by 20-30 percent in comparison to last year. Due to the influx of traveling to Europe, prices for trips have increased 10 percent to major European cities, but that has not hindered Chinese tourists from traveling to Europe. They seem eager to help revive the European economy single handedly through purchases of luxury goods.


China outbound tourism

The Chinese New Year period drew 1.4 million visitors to Thailand, according to Suvarnabhumi Airport Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager Nirandra Theeranartsin.

The figure is triple the number recorded between February 12-21 last year. On average the number of passengers increased from about 3,000 to 140,000 per day.

The airport appointed Chinese-speaking “airport ambassadors” to help them with the filling up of immigration forms and guiding them through customs procedures.

(Source: Bangkok Post)

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