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New Post 11-9-2009 17:28
  shuai
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The Mandarin Chinese are coming 

The Mandarin Chinese are coming

Prepare for an influx of tourists

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It is difficult to picture the Eiffel Tower, the Trevi fountain or the gates to Buckingham Palace without also picturing throngs of camera-toting Japanese tourists. But the Japanese will face growing competition in 2009 as they jostle for prime photo position. The World Tourism Organisation predicts that by 2020 some 100m Chinese will be travelling overseas.

Wolfgang Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, notes that most Chinese travellers get no farther than Hong Kong or Macau. Fewer than 4m a year venture beyond Asia. “In 2007, 27 out of 1,000 Chinese visited Asian destinations, while only three out of 1,000 visited destinations outside Asia.”

But hoteliers expect Chinese travellers—especially rich ones—to have a significant influence on their industry. Like the Japanese, Arabs and Russians before them, the Chinese will subtly transform the services offered by high-end hotels. “It is a gradual process,” says Christopher Norton, general manager of the George V in Paris, part of the Four Seasons portfolio. “A new class of upscale Chinese traveller is just starting to emerge.”

Mandarin will become mandatory among front-of-house staff at top hotels. Signs and menus will become more characterful. And private dining rooms will proliferate. “Privacy is hugely important to the Chinese,” says Daniel Ford, director of public relations in Asia for Ritz-Carlton. “In any of our hotels in China, you might find as many as a dozen private dining rooms.” Those wooing Chinese travellers abroad will have to adopt the principles that apply back home.

So where will you find all these Chinese tourists, Mandarin-speaking hotel staff and private dining rooms in 2009? Mainly in Hong Kong, which remains their favourite “foreign” destination, but also in Europe, South-East Asia and Australia. More Chinese will discover America too. “What they are really interested in is seeing how the West measures up,” says Mr Arlt. “They want to see it in all its brilliant modernity to understand to what degree China has been able to catch up—and whether the struggle is worth it.”


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