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Three Ways South Africa Can Attract More Chinese Tourists

Cape Town – As international travel from China begins to pick up again in 2023, South Africa has a real opportunity to attract Chinese tourists and give the economy a much-needed boost.  But change is needed to really take advantage of this opportunity.

In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, Chinese travellers led the world in international travel, embarking on 155 million journeys and injecting USD 255 billion into the global economy, as per UNWTO data. Despite this staggering figure, South Africa only attracted a meagre 0.6% of these affluent travellers.

Fast forward to 2023, and the landscape of international travel is markedly different. China’s cautious reopening has cast a spotlight on Africa, with South Africa emerging as one of the first three nations on the continent to roll out the welcome mat to Chinese visitors in the post-COVID era.

It’s worth noting that as of Q4 2023, international flight routes from China to the rest of the world had only recovered to around 30-40% of pre-pandemic levels. This presents a great opportunity for South Africa to bring these visitors to its shores.

Marcus Lee, the CEO of China Travel Online, offers some insights ahead of his talk at WTM Africa 2024, which takes place from 10 – 12 April at the CTICC in Cape Town.

Improving flight connections

A significant challenge in South Africa’s tourism sector is the absence of direct flights from China to popular South African destinations like Cape Town, which can inconvenience Chinese tourists who prefer direct routes.

“Connectivity is a crucial aspect that South Africa must address to fully tap into the potential of the Chinese travel market,” states Lee. “Improved flight connectivity can significantly reduce travel time and inconvenience for Chinese tourists.”

Adaptation to the preferences of Chinese travellers

South Africa’s current efforts in becoming ‘China Ready’ may have room for improvement, according to Lee. This means adapting to Chinese preferences, which includes language-friendly services, cultural understanding, and amenities catering to Chinese customs and traditions. Offering training programmes and initiatives could help South African businesses and professionals better understand and meet the expectations of Chinese travellers.

“Professional Chinese input plays a vital role in making destinations more ‘China Ready,’” he says. “Seeking guidance and expertise from individuals or organisations well-versed in Chinese culture, preferences, and travel behaviour is essential.”

Enhanced Promotion and Marketing Strategies

While South Africa has a presence in China and engages in promotional activities, there is still a need for more effective strategies. Lee explains, “To attract Chinese tourists effectively, we need a comprehensive approach. That includes not just online marketing but also offline activities like attending exhibitions and roadshows. These efforts can boost South Africa’s visibility among Chinese tourists.”

Not only should South Africa step up its promotional efforts, it’s crucial to create travel packages tailored specifically to Chinese tourists and diversify the country’s tourism offerings to cater to different preferences, from luxury to more affordable experiences.

With China opening up for international travel again, there’s a real opportunity for South Africa to tap into the Chinese tourist market. As one of the first African countries to welcome back Chinese visitors, making travel easier, understanding their culture better, and using smart marketing are key strategies.

-ENDS-

Issued by: Big Ambitions 

Contact: Dorine Reinstein

Tel: +27 83 278 8994 

Email: dorine@bigambitions.co.za 

About Marcus Lee, CEO, China Travel Online

Marcus Lee currently serves as the Chairman of the SME Business Owners Association in China, founded as the International China Investment Forum (ICIF). It is one of the first three organizations to promote “China Go Abroad.” Its online portal, China Invest Abroad, introduces destinations to Chinese investors.

In 2019, through its subsidiary WELCOME CHINA, it was appointed as the coordinator of the “China Pacific Tourism Year,” promoting 18 countries to China. As a result, it brought in $4 billion of investment and 200,000 Chinese tourists into these countries. Lee was subsequently appointed as Samoa Prime Minister Special Envoy to China.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the organization has been helping destinations attract investment and continue to engage with the Chinese travel trade through digital campaigns and e-learning, which is a cost-effective way to reach the Chinese audience.

Marcus speaks six Chinese languages and is the author of the international bestseller “How to Outsmart China,” featured in Bloomberg and CNN.

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents. The events are:

WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its tenth edition – there have been nine face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, São Paulo, Brazil

http://latinamerica.wtm.com/

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa under the Africa Travel Week umbrella.  In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town 

http://africa.wtm.com/

About ATW Connect:  Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.

https://atwconnect.com/

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 30th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #IdeasArriveHere

Next event: Monday 1 to Thursday 4 May 2023, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai

https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html

Arabian Travel Week is a is a 10-day long festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2023. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes the live ATM exhibition, ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Forward. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as Business Traveller Africa Awards 2023.

Arabian Travel Week takes place from 1 – 10 May 2023

https://www.wtm.com/arabian-travel-week/en-gb.html

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts.

Next live event: Monday 6-8 November 2023 at ExCel London

http://london.wtm.com/

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub. https://hub.wtm.com/

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at approximately 400 events in 22 countries across 42 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people.  RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.rxglobal.com

About RELX

RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. RELX serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs more than 35,000 people over 40% of whom are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX.

*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at http://www.relx.com/investors

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