Tourists posing in front the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Photo by dcgraphy
Just as Europe is hoping for China to be its
sugar daddy financial savior, tourism industries throughout the Asia Pacific region are bending over backwards to court Chinese tourists and the revenue boost they represent. We thought a special round-up on the subject was in order.
- South Korea: Nearly 1 in 4 of the 1.8 million Chinese tourists who visited South Korea last year went to the resort island of Jeju, where visa requirements are waived for Chinese nationals. The island is currently hoping to benefit from new rules that would allow foreign-owned private hospitals to operate in South Korea’s free economic zones and the Jeju self-governing province, in a bid to expand the country’s medical tourism industry beyond rich women popping in for a weekend boob-job or jaw-scraping. The $830 million USD Jeju Healthcare Town is currently being built to cater to Chinese medical tourists, and will open in 2015.
- Japan: The former World No.2 and current World No.3 country on the GDP Tour is lowering the yearly income requirement for individual tourist Visas from 250,000RMB to 60,000RMB for Chinese nationals. A further 16 million Chinese households can now qualify for individual tourist visas, and they can apply for visas at seven Japanese diplomatic missions, in contrast to the previous number of three. It’s quite the welcome wagon, considering the fact that visiting Japan gets poo-pooed by the Chinese government every now and then.
- Australia: Oz is looking to China to save its tourism industry, after the attempt to lure Americans with an Oprah-plug delivered mixed results. The Sydney Morning Herald claims Chinese tourists are lured to Australia partly because of easier visa requirements than Europe or the US, which actually offer more non-beach-oriented fare palatable for Chinese tastes. Tourism Australia is pushing to market the Sunburnt Country as a luxury consumerist destination for shoppers and gamblers, and the state of Victoria is competing on its own to lure visitors away from Queensland and New South Wales. The Sydney Opera House now even provides Mandarin-speaking guides.
- New Zealand: Meanwhile, Kiwi Country expects its numbers of Chinese tourists to double in the next five years, and for China to become the number 2 visitor market (after Australia, of course) by 2014, as tourist numbers from the US and UK continue to dwindle. 90 percent of all Chinese travelers to New Zealand also include a stop in Australia before buggering off for home.
- Further Reading: For a more vivid picture of the Chinese tourist phenomenon, we recommend “The Grand Tour”, an embedded account of Chinese tourists traipsing about Europe by The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.