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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 

interior entrance to Bloomingdale's in the Dubai Mall

The glitsy Bloomingdale's in the Dubai Mall

In response to the surge in Chinese visitors in countries of the United Arab Emirates, businesses are pulling out all the stops to attract more visitors and convince them to boost their spending, with special promotions that run for a couple of weeks into the Lunar New Year, even to the end of the month.

Many hotels are offering special meals and a la carte menus, while others have rolled out golf, spa and overnight packages for guests who visit over the next couple of weeks.

The retailer Bloomingdale’s says it plans to double its number of Chinese-speaking staff to cater for a growing number of customers.

Hoteliers, restaurateurs and retailers throughout the Emirates are reporting a surge in Chinese visitors ringing in the Year of the Rabbit.

About 2,500 Chinese visitors have reportedly come to the UAE through Hunter International Tourism, one of China’s largest travel agencies, to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which began yesterday, or attend conferences. The numbers are expected to match, if not exceed, last year’s figure.

“China is a massive market,” says Mr Goddard, the managing director of TRI Hospitality Consulting in Dubai, and the Chinese New Year period is “going to be a huge opportunity for getting Chinese nationals to the Middle East. Anything that promotes the Chinese market would be good for the long term.”

Global spending by tourists from China was up 17 per cent in 2009 from 2008 to US$43.7 billion (Dh160.5bn), according to the UN World Tourism Organization.

Overall, the UAE has seen a sharp increase in visitors from China since the autumn of 2009, when the country gained “approved destination” status from the Chinese government to have tourist groups come through the region.

source: http://www.thenational.ae/business/travel-tourism/chinese-new-year-boosts-uae-tourism-industry

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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