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Europe prepares for a rise in Chinese tourists


10-27-2016 14:24 BJT

The European Travel Commission is holding an event this week to launch the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year. Chinese tourists spent nearly 230 billion US dollars last year. More than Saudi Arabia earned from oil.  No wonder EU leaders say they are ready to roll out the red carpet for Chinese holiday-makers in 2018.

For the majority of Chinese tourists, a holiday to Europe can be quite expensive - the flights can cost more than a holiday in Thailand. But that's about to change. The European Travel Commission is planning to offer Chinese tourists more value for their money.

"In terms of preparing the China-EU 2018 Year Tourism, it is to be sure that the Chinese businesses and the European businesses create the packages that the Chinese visitors want," said Lowri Evans, Director-General, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMES, European Commission.

When it comes to dream holiday destinations in Europe, most Chinese tourists tend to stick with the classics. Paris, Florence, and Rome. Today's event has gone to great length to highlight some of Europe's hidden treasures, like historic cities in Poland and Romania.

"Destinations which we call the 'hidden gems' are now popping up in the interests in the Chinese. The issue here is that we need more air connectivity because we need all these destinations to be reachable for Chinese people," said Eduardo Santander, Exec. Director, European Travel Commission.

Tourists can be sensitive about the political and social stabilities of the countries they plan to visit. Given the current refugee crisis across Schengen member states, many are wondering: is this the time to visit the continent?

"Tourists from China can be safe, they won't be mixed with refugees or be part of any kind of problem related to the refugee crisis. We have teams in the European Union, working together and consolidating for European countries. It's working very good," Santander said.

EU countries are eager to attract Chinese tourists. But so is everyone else. Therefore, cities that understand and cater to Chinese travellers' needs, have the best prospect of getting their business.

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