Are French Riviera tourism operators ready for China’s National Week?

Are French Riviera’s travel and tourism operators ready for China’s National Week?   I’m dubious to say ‘Yes’ as I believe a high proportion of travel-related businesses here are completely oblivious to targeted marketing for one of the world’s largest holiday periods and tourism markets.

What is National Week?

Chinese National Day is celebrated on 1st October each year to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China.  National Week or Golden Week is the holiday period that follows National Day – this year, it runs from 1st October to 8th October 2017.  Golden Week is the longest public holiday in China aside from Chinese New Year.

Why should France care about China’s National Week?

Traditionally, France has ranked within the top 2 overseas destinations for Chinese visitors however it is increasingly facing tough competition from other European destinations.  Switzerland has made huge efforts to attract Chinese tourists, as has Croatia with Game of Thrones-themed tours.

Director Jiang Yiyi of the International Tourism Research Institute with the China Tourism Academy says, “Chinese tourists no longer only select traditional hot journey places such as Thailand, the United States and Japan to spend their holidays. Countries such as Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand and Peru have all become a new attraction.”

France needs to adapt their tourism model and refresh their marketing to go beyond standard tour product by assessing the entire tourist journey from availability and frequency of flights from Chinese cities to French cities to including Chinese-specific signage at key tourist areas.

Notably, one of the biggest lags in tourism development for Chinese visitors is translation of French websites.  To compare, Barcelona Tourism has their main website resources available in 13 languages; Nice Tourism’s website is 7 languages including Chinese – something to think about for French businesses looking to grow their Chinese client base.

Chinese tourists visiting the French Riviera

Locally, companies are realising the potential of Chinese tourism on the French Riviera.

Monte-Carlo SBM has hosted high-profile events for Chinese companies adapting their service offering for their clients, including Chinese TV channels and meal options.  Their 4 hotels –  Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort and the Monte-Carlo Beach have obtained the Silver Certification, a hospitality standard for outbound Chinese travelers, awarded by ‘Welcome Chinese’.

‘Welcome Chinese’ is the only officially recognized by Chinese Authorities certified travel service standard and travel platform, aimed at upgrading the services dedicated to Chinese travellers.

Monaco has promoted the Principality as an add-on travel experience for National Week holidays, appealing to Chinese visitors to Monaco Yacht Show to stay and discover the Principality and surrounding regions.

Golden Week – French Riviera

French Riviera travel and tourism businesses need to prepare and strategise for this important tourism market – over the 8-day Golden Week holiday period, 650 million Chinese will travel which is an incredible number logistically and of that number, 6 million will travel abroad.  While they won’t all be heading to the famous Côte d’Azur coastline, a large number have been researching their travel options for European highlights and booked already.

The chance to create travel product and packages for a target group (known as mid to high spenders) is untapped for many businesses.  Shanghai-based Ctrip.com International, a Nasdaq-listed travel agency said that a quarter of their Ctrip customers chose to travel between 7 and 10 days, up 140 % year-on-year.   As well, shopping ranks highly as an activity during this time.

Immersive culture experiences, adventure activities and enticing landscapes appeal to Chinese visitors and as it is shoulder season here with comfortable temperatures and clear weather, the potential for opportunity is high.

Stats:  Ctrip.com, UNWTO

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