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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

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

BRUSSELS – Professor Geoffrey Lipman, Director of greenearth.travel, said that it was time to to look for more tourists from China to boost African economies, following the strengthening trade patterns between the regions and the emergence of China as a leading global tourism player.

MORE INFORMATION

The central point of Lipman’s remarks, addressing the IIPT Summit in Zambia and the ITC Summit in Turkey, was the huge potential for the world’s least developed counties (LDC) (particularly in Africa) to transition out of poverty through green growth – the 4 decade strategic transition to a renewable energy-based world with temperature increases limited to 2 degrees; a coherent response to increasing global socio-economic, poverty, and climate challenges, with population growth and resources decrease and while ensuring conservation to maintain species balance, inclusion to maintain human balance, and digitalization to manage the low carbon shift. He identified the massive potential dividends ahead for LDC’s through travelism (the travel and tourism supply and demand chains) as a universal services export, a producer of wealth and jobs, a catalyst for other economic activity, and a key industry to increase human understanding and happiness.

Speech at www.greenearth.travel.

Read the full article at www.eturbonews.com.

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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.

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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.

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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

According to Egypt’s Tourism Minister Munir Abdel Nour, a sharp fall of tourist arrivals early in the year had caused economic losses of more than one billion U.S. dollars.

From February to April, an further estimated reduction of 3 million tourists, lead to estimated losses of 2.3 billion U.S. dollars, he added.

Last year, the country hosted 12.7 million tourists and reaped 13 billion U.S. dollars, or 11.3 percent of its gross domestic product. The number of Chinese tourists to Egypt last year stood at 106,000.

A Chinese delegation of 18 journalists arrived in Cairo on Monday for a five-day tour, at the invitation of Egyptian authorities.

The delegation came from 12 media organizations.

For the full article, please click here.

[tweetmeme source=”astronauttravel” only_single=false]

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.

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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.

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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