Business / Industries

Chile a 'natural' draw for affluent Chinese tourists

By Andrea Deng (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-10 08:52

Chile may become a tourism destination for wealthy Chinese visitors if bilateral industry ties can be further developed, diplomats and tourism officials said.

Chile is one of the farthest countries from China and airfares will remain as high as $3,000 no matter which route Chinese tourists take, said Liu Rutao, economic and commercial adviser at China's embassy in Chile. That limits the destination to those who cannot afford such a high fare.

Liu noted that Chile's extremely diverse natural landscapes mean that the country is a place for those who seek adventure, rather than shopping or sightseeing.

"These experiences are exactly what the wealthy and more demanding Chinese tourists are looking for," Liu said.

Liu shared his views with a 30-strong delegation visiting the Pacific Alliance countries. The delegates, led by the Global Tourism Economy Research Center, are Chinese business leaders from a wide range of industries, particularly tourism.

Since the global financial crisis in 2008, many real estate companies in China have diversified their business portfolios and moved into other industries. Tourism became a sound business choice for many of them, said Wang Ping, chairwoman of the China Chamber of Tourism, who is among the delegates.

Some hotel conglomerates in China have gained much from the growing tourism sector. Winnie Chiu, president and executive director of Dorsett Hospitality International, said Chinese tourists are "high-yield customers".

"Chinese outbound tourists spend over $200 per day per person and they already exceed what German tourists spend. While Europeans typically spend roughly 50 percent of their travel expenses on lodging, Chinese tourists spend about 12 percent on lodging.

"That means that Chinese tourists contribute not only to hotel occupancy but also to retail, entertainment and other sectors," Chiu said during the delegates' meeting with Chile's Foreign Investment Committee.

Martin Pathan, the committee's investment attraction officer, said Chile wants to attract investors to build hotels in some of the unique natural environments of the country. The country has glaciers in the south close to the Antarctic. It also has deserts in the north where the sky is so clear that it attracts the world's astrophysicists to study the skies.

Chile also boasts the mysterious Easter Island, located to the west of Chile's mainland. The island is known for its hundreds of giant statues created by the island's natives centuries ago.

To reduce tourism damage to the island, flights are limited and fares are high, according to Li Baorong, China's ambassador to Chile.

Chile in recent years has sought to attract Asian tourists. The Chilean Ministry of Economics will organize roadshows in October in Asia including stops in Shanghai, Beijing and Macao, bringing along business representatives, in a bid to promote the country's tourist destinations.

Chile received only 12,000 Chinese tourists among a total of 3.7 million visitors last year. Starting from July 1, Chile has agreed to waive visa fees for Chinese visitors.

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