France makes an effort to make Paris more welcoming
French tourism stakeholders are rolling out initiatives for the Chinese market, given the three-fold increase in arrivals since 2010, TTG Asia reports.
In 2013, France welcomed 200,000-plus Chinese tourists, or 2% of total arrivals. Shopping in Paris remains a prime attraction for the Chinese, and Mandarin-speaking retail staff and fashion stores accepting the bank card China UnionPay are not uncommon.
“If we look at data from the Ile de France region where Paris is located, Chinese travellers are the number one among Asians,” said Patricia Barthelemy, leisure marketing manager at the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Beyond Paris, the Chinese are now exploring destinations such as the Bordeaux wine region, the Rhone-Alpes, Nice and Cannes, according to Atout France.
“The younger generation of Chinese visitors is demanding more experiential travel,” said Jose Henrique Goncalves, general manager of Paris-based Abako Productions. “The French tourism industry is responding to these changes and adapting constantly to meet the specific needs of this growing market. We are designing innovative programs that incorporate gastronomy, art and culture.”
Tour operator ParisCityVision provides its Chinese clients with translation services and Chinese guides. Meanwhile, ICC Paris and Comité Régional du Tourisme Paris Ile-de-France launched the Do You Speak Tourist initiative, which enrols staff in courses covering languages such as Mandarin, Japanese, German, Spanish and Italian. It also includes a map and dedicated website educating traders on how to better receive foreign visitors.
[pictured: Detail of Chinese painting Night Revels, Song Dynasty, 960–1279]