Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Sell Cebu as an 'experience' to Chinese tourists, says consultant

CEBU. Hang Zhao, business development manager and consultant for ASM Global Route Development, discuss on the growing trend of "experiential tourism" for Chinese tourists during the third day of the Routes Asia 2019 Summit held at Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino in Cebu City. (SunStar Cebu photo/ Arni C. Aclao)

WOOING the Chinese travelers? Go beyond selling them luxury shopping, a speaker during the Routes Asia 2019 Summit said.

Hang Zhao, business development manager and consultant of ASM Global Route Development, said the new breed of travelers these days no longer want to buy things when they travel. But they are hefty spenders when it comes to experiences.

Hang said that in the rush to urbanize, many Chinese have lost touch with the natural world. When they travel, they seek to reconnect.

“Experience is becoming significant in tourism,” said Hang.

He said Chinese travelers want to splurge on connecting with their adventurous side and experience destinations that offer unique activities.

“They don’t want to buy things anymore,” said Hang.

“Cultural experience becomes as popular as the phrase ‘to travel like the local,’” said Hang.

From January to June last year, the top overseas tourism experiences among Chinese travelers were the kimono experience in Kyoto, Thai massage in Phuket, mud bath in Nha Trang, jungle rope jump in Chang Mai, desert safari in Dubai, snorkeling and diving in the Grotto in Saipan, paragliding in Bali, Thai cuisine cooking experience in Chiang Mai, Ayung river boat drifting in Bali, and skydiving in Dubai’s The Palm Jumeirah.

Hang challenged tourism and travel stakeholders to take note of the evolving behaviors of travelers so they can pattern their packages and prepare their destinations well.

Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists Inc. president Alice Queblatin earlier said Cebu is already pushing for eco-tourism, adventure, and cultural and farm tourism for this type of market.

Chinese tourists who visit Cebu buy packages that focus on island hopping in the southern areas such as Oslob, Moalboal, Alegria, Badian, and a countryside day-tour in Bohol.

“They go for whale-watching, snorkeling, and the sardine run and waterfalls, and other adventure activities,” she said.

China, so far, has the most number of international flights to Cebu, with direct connections to 12 cities in the mainland such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuxi, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Kunming, Sichuan and Wenzhou.

Chinese arrivals to Cebu grew 44.88 percent last year, from 429,306 to 621,993. China cornered a 17.11 percent share in the total number of foreign arrivals.

Besides offering experiential tourism, Hang also emphasized the role of technology in attracting Chinese tourists.

Hang said mobile phones are now getting involved in tourism, as travelers demand fast, efficient, relevant and useful tools when traveling.

He noted that 93 percent of Chinese tourists would consider using mobile payments when traveling overseas.

China’s outbound travel market is estimated to reach 134 million trips in 2018.

China is said to be a major market shaking the travel and tourism industry, with players around the world competing for a good slice of the market.

By 2025, China will have 221 cities with more than one million inhabitants. If the current trend holds, China’s urban population will hit the one-billion mark by 2030.

China had about 235 airports as of 2018, excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Last year, the total passenger throughput by all civil airports in China reached 1.265 billion, up by 10.2 percent from 2017.

The growth of China’s aviation industry is set to displace the United States as the world’s largest market in the mid-2020s.

The Chinese government has plans to build or expand 74 airports nationwide by the end of 2020 to help accommodate the surge in demand for air travel.


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