Gazdek: Chinese tourists are great opportunity for Croatia
Author: CSEBA / SEEbiz
25th February 2019
INTERVIEW - Organized by ProConcept, Joanne Chan of IPPWORLD comes to Zagreb on the 1st Regional Conference on the Chinese Tourism Market - Key Solutions to Access the World's Largest Market, to be held on March 14, 2019 at the Academia Hotel in Zagreb.

About this conference, as well as the topic of Chinese tourists as well as what their growth in Croatia might mean for Croatian tourism, we talk to Andrej Gazdek, Director of ProConcept.

Why did you decide on a conference with the theme of Chinese tourists?

A good part of my tourism experience relates to tourism in the city of Zagreb. When two years ago I started working for some accommodation facilities in Dalmatia I was shocked by a short tourist season. Since then, I have been thinking of how to extend the season with the existing resources in a quick and easy way. It was intrigued by a huge Chinese market that grows at incredible speed. In addition, it is a current and positive moment of Croatian-Chinese relations that should be exploited in the best possible way. In further explorations of the Chinese tourism market I concluded that I was on the right track, but that we had to make certain strategic steps to get quality guests - Chinese tourists who organize their trip alone. Why them? Because they are the biggest consumers in the world! Because they travel practically all year round, and their hit seasons match perfectly with our low season, late January and early February, and in October. So, it is not our goal to persist in the same structure of Chinese guests, but in this segment we must make a significant step forward.

My next step was to establish a partnership with one of the largest Asian IPPWORLD agency agencies that can help us plan the activities. How can we present the market in how we can extend the tourist season, bring guests to all parts of Croatia, connect with the Chinese tourist market , ie how we can help it, a logical sequence was to organize a conference.

What are the current trends regarding Chinese tourists in Croatia?

Chinese tourists come to Croatia for more than a decade. We recognize them as groups of mostly older people over the age of 50. The arrival points are their airports in Budapest, Vienna or Venice ... Croatia is only one of the three countries you visit. In Croatia, they stay for two to three days, mostly for one night at each location. They visit Zagreb and Plitvice, and possibly a third location. They travel mostly in spring and autumn.

This type of guest I described represents only 20% of the total number of foreigners traveling to China. Unfortunately, this is part of the least-used market, and from which our tourism in reality has little benefit, we only count the number of overnight stays, and the real profit is missing because, changing the yard after just one night is not a job if we pay extra low the price of overnight stays. So, we do not really know the true Chinese tourism market. According to the forecasts of our tourist workers, the number of Chinese guests in Croatia will grow drastically, but we do not see that it is working to increase the structure of quality guests, consumers who stay longer in the location. That's the goal we have to put up.

What do we need to attract more Chinese tourists?

We need to become visible! When I say this, I primarily think that we should approach them in the language they understand, which they say, which is close to them, and that is the Chinese language. Croatia is a country rich in history, exceptional cultural and historical monuments, unique and unique natural beauty. For many of these attractions we do not even know ourselves, even though we live here. It is necessary to list, mark, describe all valuable places, give them significance through various guides, websites, etc. Of course, these locations should also have a formal shape to accommodate guests.

A key role in this offer is to have tourist communities that need to be more actively involved in marketing locations, locating, defining and describing, forming and eventually promoting attractive locations. All of this can of course be made easily through clusters linking tourist communities, associations and business entities. This great incentive is the fact that funds for EU development funds are provided for such development clusters, which in Croatia are virtually unused or almost unused.

We have until now some of these good examples, one of which is the clone of the Sinj alcheme, which we can give more information to the public if it shows interest. After the formation of the product and the presentation of the Chinese language presentation, it is necessary to product and promote it in the Chinese market. In view of the particular constraints that exist in this regard, and I am primarily concerned with a "Chinese firewall" that does not allow Google, Facebook and similar Western market networks, access to the Chinese market, it is necessary to connect with advertising agencies that offer their products in the Chinese market. One of these agencies is IPPWORLD and their partner for Croatia and the countries of the former Yugoslavia, ProConcept.

What are the specifics of Chinese tourists?

The specificity of Chinese tourists derives from their historical and cultural identity, their life philosophy. We often witness negative comments on the behavior of Chinese guests, but most of them actually stem from Chinese culture ignorance. In order to educate the market we have published an extensive Insider Marketing Report on the Chinese outbound tourism market. To learn more, you can download the report HERE. This report is the only and comprehensive document that emerged after China's WTO accession in 2001. It was written by Joanne Chan, the director of the IPPWORLD development that comes to our conference and will be the main presenter.

Which parts of Croatia are the Chinese most attractive and why?

Recently, director of Ctrip, Jane Sun, gave McKinsey an interview, as part of a survey that McKinsey conducted on the phenomenon of a large growth in the number of Chinese tourists in the world. Her view of what Chinese tourists are looking for on their travels, that is, the purpose of these journeys is very interesting, and is actually the answer to your question. She and her family, husband and children, travel to have fun, but also through the fun teaching kids about history and culture, and met with the way in which other nations live. Their last year's trip to Europe included a visit to Italy where they visited Rome and Florence, and met with antique buildings and many details from ancient history. In Florence, they visited cultural monuments and met with Michelangelo and his opus. By the way, they enjoyed Italian gastronomy and wines. Each of their trips has an educational character and they also want fun and enjoyment.

Moved to the territory of Croatia, all parts of Croatia, from Vukovar and Slavonia, to Požega and Varaždin, Krapina, Zagreb, ... are all interesting to the Chinese, all the way to Dubrovnik. Each of our locations that emphasizes local values and specialties, and we have them in a large number, is interesting to the Chinese. Every location needs to find such values and make them accessible, visible.

What promotion methods are specific to Chinese (social networks ...)?

Chinese are at the top in the world in mobile phones and mobile applications. On average, there are over 100 different applications per day for all needs, from ordering to doctors, paying bills, taxiing, planning holiday, ... What we need to consider is that they are unavailable to Western search engines and Western social networks. Chinese WeChat is the most widely distributed social network that contains a number of practical applications for everyday life and activities. Promotional messages on WeChat and similar applications must include photographs, Chinese-language descriptions, and links to hotel websites and hotel reservation systems, which should also be in Chinese language. The offer in the destination itself should also be presented in Chinese, various brochures about attractions and excursions in the immediate vicinity of the location, menus and offers of restaurants and hotels, and the like.

What you offer in Chinese will certainly be more accessible to a Chinese customer or guest, and will directly contribute to the realization of sales. The WeChat component is also a series of subscriptions with information and travel reviews. Good reviews and recommendations for the Chinese are the best advertisements. Prior to purchasing, you will be required to check the satisfaction of customers who have already made a purchase of certain products or used a particular service. They do not believe in the promises and descriptions of retailers, they consider it to be just well-designed promotional messages. Travel photos are posted on social networks during the journey, as well as exchanging information with friends and family at the same time as photos. We need to set up promotional messages that we want to upload to such websites.

Are the Peljesac Bridge and the investments of Chinese companies important in terms of greater arrival of Chinese visitors to the Republic of Croatia?

The big Peljesac bridge project, built by the Chinese company CRBC and financed by the European Union, is a major step in Croatian-Chinese relations, and is a major step in terms of China's entry into the European Union market. Such an event was actually a matter of moment, but for Croatia it has a great significance because Croatia has just opened its door to deepening cooperation between China and Europe. Chinese people look closely at China's relations with the rest of the world and hit incredible prices or condemn good or bad situations in China's geopolitical positions.

After the relations between the United States and China became doubrful, we saw significantly reduced number of Chinese tourists in that part of the world. A positive moment in relations between China and Croatia should be exploited in the best possible way. We recently published an overview of the Croatian-Chinese relations in 2019, which describes very in a very short way how these relations are perceived by the Chinese and what they mean to them. We are the key in accessing a large Chinese tourist market. Croatia is the focus of China! Let's not miss this extraordinary opportunity to break into the world's largest tourism market!


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