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European tourism market eager to woo Chines travelers
During an ITB panel discussion, industry experts gathered together to explore ways to reach potential consumers and entice Chinese consumers to travel to Europe.
With Western tourism markets sagging, how to attract a new breed of Chinese travelers has become a topic at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) trade show opened in Berlin Wednesday.

During an ITB panel discussion, industry experts gathered together to explore ways to reach potential consumers and entice Chinese consumers to travel to Europe.

"Chinese tourism is changing, it's no longer just about bus tours. Young people are travelling and buying luxury goods. It's now a question of how to brand in China," said Jens Thraenhart, president of Dragon Trail, a China-based marketing company that helps international travel agencies woo Chinese consumers.

Rising incomes along with easier visa accessibility have faciliated the take-off of the Chinese outbound market.

The World Travel Trends Report released at the ITB said the number of Chinese travellers taking outbound trips could reach 79 million by 2015, making China the largest outbound travel market.

"When we do survey, Chinese say they come to Europe mainly for sightseeing and they do shopping in Paris because they want to buy luxury items from the original shop," Rolf Freitag, founder and CEO of tourism consultancy IPK International, told Xinhua.

Experts agreed social media platform would play an important role in courting Chinese consumers.

"The Internet is a lot more influential in China in comparison to the United States and other countries. Social media is an important channel," said Thraenhart. "95 percent of Chinese consumers trust a brand more if it is blogged about."

Grabbing a new market requires not only online presence but cultural understanding and mutual respect.

Lu Liu, a Chinese student majoring in international tourism management, said Chinese-language signs and menus also played a significant role in making Chinese tourists feel at home in Europe.

"Some signs for directions are only in English or German," Lu Liu told Xinhua. "It would be better if they were also in Chinese. Sometimes you can only find no-smoking signs in Chinese. We want a warmer welcome in Europe."

When being asked how airline could boost European inbound tourism, Chen Mingqiong, general manager of the Berlin office for China's Hainan Airlines told Xinhua, "We need to open more routes to Europe. Once there are more direct flights, more and more Chinese will come to new destinations in Europe."
  Source: Xinhua

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