This interview by a China blogger with anâ€”dare I sayâ€”expert on Chinese outbound tourism is quite interesting and very informative. Roy Graff’s business concept is brilliant, just wish Iâ€™d thought of that. Tourism is fundamentally a good thing and Chinese outbound tourism helps to reduce Chinaâ€™s astronomical trade surplus. And Iâ€™m all for speeding up the ADS (Approved Destination Status) procedure, especially so that countries like Canada and the U.S. will benefit. With the recent opening of the Los Angeles VCB office in Beijing, places like LA and Vegas will certainly be among the first American cities to benefit when the U.S. finally obtains ADS. But the question is, are they ready? Can they handle and service that many Chinese tourists? Do they have the cultural sensitivity? Do they have the language skills? Certainly, with large Chinese immigrant communities (particularly in LA) they have the food to satisfy Chinese tourists. But what about the activities they will do and the fact that the majority of Chinese people canâ€™t drive? These are the issues that Roy Graff and his company, Ccontact, help overseas tour companies and destinations work through in their China strategy. How genius is that?
In the interview Roy Graff said he expected the trend in outbound tourism for experienced Chinese travelers to be
More people will choose to stay more time in a single country or go on â€˜themeâ€™ tours, such as cultural Europe, sports activities etc.
In this case, Iâ€™m going to have to disagree with the expert. I donâ€™t think Chinese tourists are going to choose â€˜themeâ€™ tours, unless that theme is shopping. The Chinese usually arenâ€™t interested in culture when they travel overseas, evidenced by the fact they travel in large groups which minimizes interaction with native peoples, they refuse to eat local food, and their favorite activity is shopping. A large part of the appeal for the Chinese to travel overseas is to impress friends and relatives back in China with where theyâ€™ve been and bring back designer goods and photos to prove it. Therefore, I expect the more well-traveled Chinese will seek out iconic places like Los Angeles where they can go to Disneyland and Universal Studios or Vegas where they will stay in the MGM Grand and say theyâ€™ve rubbed the lionâ€™s foot and gambled in Vegas. And after that, they will look to more exotic destinations like Africa and even Antarctica. Despite the fact the Chinese people shun the sun, they are surprisingly in love with places like Hawaii and the Maldives.
Although Chinese outbound tourism has huge potential and will do a lot to expose the Chinese, one group, or one solo traveler at a time, to the outside world, I have to say Iâ€™m more interested in inbound China tourism. Hence, why I have a Shanghai shopping business catering to inbound tourists and work in a local hotel that receives many foreign guests. (Just a clarification: outbound tourism is people of the country being mentioned going abroad for travel; inbound tourism is people of other countries visiting the country in discussion. For example, my family would be China inbound tourists, whereas my colleagues wanting to go to the Maldives are potential outbound Chinese tourists.) This is why I proposed doing research on and working with local governments and the China National Tourism Administration to promote to foreign tourists the appeal of remote inland locations such as the Dragonâ€™s Backbone Rice Terraces in Guangxi or Shangri-la in Yunnan. But alas, my proposal was not accepted; instead, here I am offering Shanghai inbound tourists custom shopping tours as well accommodations at a local boutique hotel.
Yay! Power to tourism!Â Power to entrepreneurship!