When provinces and cities tow whole countries
The prominence of Eastern countries in welcoming Chinese visitors is expected to continue throughout the current year. The major sign of relative transformation is the role of South Korea: Seoul is forecast by many to surpass Thailand as the main destination favored by Chinese tourists (provided that Hong Kong and Taiwan are excluded from the count). Nevertheless, single regions and small countries, far from the traditional itineraries followed by Chinese tour groups, are displaying great results in boosting Mandarin-speaking tourism.
NORTHERN CALLS - Since 2009, there has been a more than 100% jump in Chinese arrivals in British Columbia (BC), the huge territory overlooking the Pacific Ocean that marks Canadaâ€™s Western border. The province is administered from the not-so- famous capital city of Victoria, but the vacation paradise of Vancouver is not far away. British Columbia registered a 26,1% hike in Chinese tourists in 2013, with a total of 203,100 arrivals. That is not very far from the 270,000 scored by the UK in the same year. The number of Chinese visitors has increased by 246% between 2004 and 2013, largely due to the Chinese governmentâ€™s decision to grant Canada the approved destination status (ADS) in late 2009. The BC Tourism board confirmed that, at present, only the United States overtakes Beijing as a source of inbound visitors. Reasons for this â€œboomâ€ are the ADS recognition, a speeded-up procedure for granting visas and active marketing campaigns on the part of BC province representatives in China. New tourists are also younger, with the 20-to-44 age group comprising about 43%. In addition, BC has the advantage of a longstanding and well rooted community of about 400,000 ethnic Chinese.
TO THE VERY SOUTH - On a smaller scale, impressive results were achieved by the southernmost of the Australian provinces, the island of Tasmania. The number of Chinese visitors almost doubled to 18,900 in 2013. Local tourism minister Will Hodgman recently stated that Â«the Asian market is key to the Stateâ€™s future,Â» and noted that a sales mission operated by the Tasmanian Tourism Board, named Greater China, is scheduled to be launched in September.
MEGALOPOLIS - Great results came from Manchester, UK, and Los Angeles, USA, too, since permanent marketing offices in first-tier Chinese cities and public-financed programs aimed at training tourism and shopping operators has borne fruit. The Northern British city, popular among tourists for its well-preserved industrial heritage and landscape, attracted 18.987 Mandarin-speaking visitors in 2013, +31% over the previous year. On the other side of the world, Californiaâ€™s renowned movie-making city counted 570,000 arrivals in 2013, +21% over 2012: this is approximately one third of all Chinese tourists to the US. And the list continues, with progress being made by New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Switzerland; in fact, the Alpine country has been popular with Chinese tourists for many years now.