Travel Alberta

Chinese Travellers Offer Huge Growth Opportunity

China is the largest and fastest growing outbound tourism market in the world. And more Chinese travellers are visiting Canada than ever, thanks to eased travel restrictions and a stronger yuan against the dollar.

According to the Canadian Tourism Commission, almost 1 million Chinese are considering a holiday to Alberta in the next two years.

Tap into this lucrative market by learning more about these travellers and what they want in their Alberta experience.

“Sometimes it’s just a little tweak or two to make the Chinese traveller feel more welcome,” says Wade Harper, Executive Director, International for Travel Alberta. “The payoff can be extraordinary.”

The New Face of the Chinese Traveller

Today’s travellers from China are younger, well-educated, employed and sophisticated. More and more, they want to travel on their own (FIT) and not just with tours. They often speak some English, but still require information in Mandarin.

About 60 per cent are motivated to see beautiful, unspoiled scenery and cultural attractions, as compared to 20 per cent of U.S. tourists.

They love to shop and are big spenders. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada says visitors from China spend more on retail purchases than any other group. Naturally, Alberta’s lack of a PST is a selling point.

How is the Chinese Traveller Unique?

Chinese travellers are very social media savvy. They regularly post photos, video and stories when they travel. About 30 out of 100 Chinese will create new online content, as compared to only one out of 100 people in the West.

That means Chinese tourists are actively telling the Alberta story to others while they are here.

Also important is that the Chinese are highly influenced in their travel decisions by family and friends. So their Alberta vacation posts have real power to influence many potential customers in China.

“If a Chinese traveller sees, for example, a plaque in Mandarin at a tourist attraction in Jasper, they will send that information out and that attraction will become a must see for others travelling to Canada,” says Harper.

How to Welcome the Chinese Traveller

The Chinese traveller expects friendly, professional service that recognizes their particular needs, says Harper.

That means websites, welcome materials, maps and travel/tourism guides that have Mandarin content, Chinese TV channels, interpreters on tours, smoking rooms, free WiFi, on-site restaurants, Chinese-friendly menu items, and a kettle and tea pot in their hotel room instead of a coffee pot.

Most importantly, Chinese travellers want to pay with China UnionPay, the credit card used by 70 per cent of residents. Travellers will chose destinations that take this card over others that don’t.

How to Tap Into the Chinese Market

The majority of Chinese travellers book via tour operators, and online bookings are now growing. Statistics Canada says 91 per cent use a travel agent.

This means Alberta tourism providers need to work closely with Receptive Tour Operators that sell Alberta products to Chinese tour companies and travel agents. Highlight your Chinese specific services to your RTO and make sure your products are included.

Find a reliable translation service and produce materials in Mandarin. Work with your DMO and feed it relevant social media content.

Attend marketplaces like Rendez-vous Canada and Canada’s West Marketplace with materials in Mandarin and make sure you are on ATIS and Trip Advisor.

What is Travel Alberta Doing to Help?

“Mainland China is a top priority market for us,” says Harper. “We are more active than any other province in social media, making sure they know all about Alberta products.”

Travel Alberta regularly hosts media and Chinese celebrities in Alberta, works with the Canadian Tourism Commission on consumer campaigns, with individual DMOs, and with MICE to raise awareness of Canada as a convention destination. This year, 600 Chinese employees from Michelin are meeting in Alberta.

Travel Alberta is also active in Travel Trade, helping 35 preferred tour operators in China tell the Alberta story and build itineraries across the province.

“Travel Alberta has been very actively in the game since China gave Canada Approved Destination Status in 2010,” says Harper. “This is too important a market to ignore, and any effort will go a long way.”


Travel Alberta