The emerging Chinese tourism market will change the face of the UK tourism industry.
Chinese tourism advisors ChinaContact managing director Roy Graff said while 12 million Chinese travelled overseas in 2001, this figure is predicted to reach up to 52 million by 2010.
With a strong emphasis on social structure, respect for traditions and hierarchy even among groups of tourists, the UK’s tourism businesses will need to take this into account or lose business.
Graff said: “The Chinese tourism industry will change the west’s traditional models for handling tourists.”
He said Chinese tourism groups have largely consisted of businessmen who have added a few days to their trip to take in the sights, adding: “They’re token sightseers, flashing their cameras a lot and doing a lot of shopping and gambling.”
Graff said while this will change with groups expected to become more family orientated, they will still demand flexibility when travelling and focus on luxury product and experiences in order to enhance their social standing upon their return home.
He said some travel companies are already adapting to this, especially hotel companies. Graff added: “The Chinese are very brand conscious. Those hotels that have set up in China are not doing so to make money there but to establish their brand, and to a large extent that works.”