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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.

 

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

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.

The impact on the travel industry – and therefore travel retail – from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami and nuclear crisis continues to worsen.

International Air Transport Association (IATA), Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani commented: “Japan is an important link in global air transport. The US$62.5 billion Japanese aviation market represents 6.5% of worldwide scheduled traffic and 10% of the industry’s revenues

Read the full article from the Moodie Report



Dr Kim Hames, Australia’s Tourism Minister since December 2010, is shifting the focus of Australia’s inbound tourism promotion from the traditional markets of Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia to the new market of China.

“I’m going to concentrate a lot more on China, trying to bring Chinese visitors here,” he says, adding that he is examining what sort of holiday packages and airline arrangements are needed to bring in greater numbers of Chinese visitors.

“I’ve been talking to the Chinese and they want to go and buy diamonds at Argyle, see where the iron ore comes from, so we’re going to look at how we can better promote that industrial tourism as well.”

Dr Hames will visit China in April and May to lobby officials for airlines to come to Western Australia, hoping to capitalise on the new agreement between the governments of both countries to expand by 8000 a week the number of seats on flights between the two countries.

“I’ll be talking to airlines about giving discounted fares from Western Australia if they come to WA first. We’re going to meet those airlines in the near future – specifically going to China just to meet three airlines.”

His pitch? Convenience, for one.

“We’re in the same time zone so people without having to go across time zones can duck down here where there are lots of things to see, as well as a community that’s welcoming and open with fantastic beaches. Or use it as the gateway to the rest of Australia,” Dr Hames says.

pink diamond ring

Source: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/9037130/tourism-minister-reels-them-in/

Malaysia, one of the top twenty tourism destinations in the world, is streamlining its campaign to attract tourists from specific Chinese cities. Find out why Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong are at the top of Malaysia’s inbound tourism agenda.

Read the full article at http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsbusiness.php?id=572113.

Beach off the coast of Sabah

The Coast of Sabah, East Malaysia

The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) reported that earnings from tourism in 2010 rose by 15% above 2009, reaching US$ 876 million.

By promoting itself as a regional conferencing hub, Kenya attracted 1,095 million tourists in 2010. (952,481 tourists had visited in 2009.)

In response to serious economic challenges in key European markets, Tourism minister Najib Balala, revealed plans to invest more resources in growth markets this year, and diversify the marketing pitch. “We have done well especially in India, China, and Africa,” he said.

Tourism was the leading foreign exchange earner until it was hit hard by 2008 post election violence and the global financial crisis. In 2010, tourism was the third forex earner.

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Corporate+News/Tourism+earnings+miss+the+Sh100bn+full+year+target/-/539550/1120868/-/item/0/-/1jrixjz/-/index.html



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

It used to be the Russians who splurged on tax-free shopping for authentic and luxury brands while traveling to European countries. Since last summer, not only have Chinese tourists emerged as the top tax-free shoppers in Europe, their average spending for each transaction doubled that of the Russians.

On average, outbound travelers from the Chinese mainland spent 744 euros on tax-free shopping transactions last year, doubling the Russian’s 368 euros. Tourists from the United States spent 554 euros and the Japanese 521 euros, according to Global Blue.

For the complete story, see http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20110224-265105.html

 

China’s GQ magazine (a luxury lifestyle magazine, launched in China in 2009) is running a story about Chinese travel trends, entitled “The Chinese’ Travel Revolution.” This article is remarkable because it shows a strong new preference among Chinese travelers to be more adventurous and (for the ones who can afford it) to experience something outstanding and not just group tourism.

It is also interesting that these stories are not published in travel magazines anymore but in lifestyle magazines. Travel is definitely becoming more and more of a hot topic in China. It has been that way in the West already for a long time but because of restrictions the Chinese have only just picked up on it. And now they are hungry for it.

Indeed, this article features anything but the ordinary. Highlights include horseback riding on Hoysgol Lake, a magic lake that freezes overnight, and whose sound of cracking ice guarantees good luck for the entire year to come; MiGE-29 fighter airplane stunts experienced from inside the craft; watching Peru’s 900 types of wild birds or Sichuan’s two or three; hunting and fishing with the indigenous tribes of the Amazon rainforest or engaging in witchcraft with the remote tribes of Togo, Benin, and Burka Faso; experiencing the world’s purest sunshine and seawater in Greenland or the purest air on the Drangmehhu River (with the most rapid water, incidentally) in Bhutan; hiking up to Machu Picchu or pedalling all over Italy on a pasta tour. Then, after the Chinese traveler finishes fishing from a helicopter over waterfalls not far from the Nile, and coming nose to nose with polar bears and foxes in the North Pole, he or she can save some lives on the Global Charter Flight Tour.

It’s a fact: Chinese perception towards traveling is changing radically. Travel is no longer for the weak of heart, and the smart players in the tourism industry are taking notice.

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