The global tourist industry has its eyes firmly set on one place: China.
The growth of the Asian superpower’s middle-classes has prompted growth in overseas travel, with Chinese tourists’ high average spending in each destination they visit making them global tourism's most coveted market.
“Three million Chinese people spend the same as 20 million Canadians or 20 million Mexicans. The Chinese stay longer and spend more”, says Chris Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, the agency charged with promoting tourism to the United States on a global level.
China is one of 14 markets that Brand USA is targeting to promote a number of US destinations, with a special focus on Asian tastes and customs. They are work with a Chinese media firm in order to get the message right.
In 2016, Chinese tourists were the fifth biggest market for the US tourism sector behind Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Japan. But they were on top of the list of biggest spenders.
Much of the conversation and negotiation that took place at this week’s World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) conference, which ended Thursday in Buenos Aires, focused on Chinese tourists.
The national government signed an agreement with the Chinese tourism website Fliggy — a subsidiary of Alibaba — to promote Argentina’s major tourist destinations to the platform’s more than 250 million users.
Argentina received 30,000 Chinese tourists in 2015. That number more than doubled two years later to 62,000.
“Alibaba’s tourism platform will be a tool for Argentina to insert itself in the Chinese market”, Tourism Minister Gustavo Santos said.
For his part, Fliggy’s vice-president Huang Yuzhou said “younger generations (in China) have a very positive image of Argentina and want to try its wines, see a football match between River Plate and Boca Juniors and see the Iguazú Falls”. “By collaborating we can show them that this (Argentina) is a fantastic destination”, he added.