Encouraging Chinese travellers to visit Eastern European countries could be an opportunity in the battle against overtourism in Western Europe.
Speaking at the Responsible Tourism and China session at World Travel Market London today, Wolfgang Georg Arlt, director of China Outbound Tourism and Research Institute (COTRI), said that the Chinese market is key to discussions about overtourism.
He explained that this was due to its current size, which COTRI has predicted to reach 160 million arrivals globally in 2018, plus its rapid growth rate – COTRI believes that by 2030 half of the additional outbound travellers forecasted by UNWTO in the next decade will be Chinese.
Arlt said this was partly due to easing of visa restrictions and increased airlift from second-tier cities.
He explained that there is an opportunity for these tourists to visit other places once they have ticked off the likes of Paris, London and Milan.
“For the Chinese it is easier to give them specific adapted product, for example you might say, ‘go to Sarajevo at this particular time in November as there’s something there that you’ll be interested in’, unlike European travellers who have more ingrained ideas about where is good to visit when.”
He added that in focus groups of Chinese travellers, they often said they want to go somewhere where there aren’t lots of other Chinese visitors.
Arlt caveated this however saying they want to go somewhere that knows what they want.
“Criticism of Chinese tourists is often because they have a need that is not answered. It is a question of how to satisfy their needs,” he said.