Zhejiang in pursuit of Europe

ZHEJIANG province in China has introduced an eight-day tour itinerary to help boost the number of European visitors.

“It’s a market with big potential,” said provincial vice director of tourism Xu Peng in Madrid, during the agency’s first stop of a European trip that included London.

Although Zhejiang is the third most visited province in China, especially its capital of Hangzhou, the number of foreign tourists remains at just 6.8 million. Last year, majority was from intra-regional markets, led by Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and Japan, with less than 120,000 from Europe.

Spain, France and Italy are seen as ‘particularly promising’ markets because majority of Chinese emigrants here are originally from Zheijang.

The tour itinerary, presented to Spanish operators in Madrid, has been designed to showcase a mix of landscape, culture and other attractions, especially shopping.

It includes Hangzhou and the nearby ‘water cities,’ as well as the massive ‘small products’ market complex at Yiwu and the province’s TV and film studios.

To boost European tourism, the provincial government is also working on encouraging airlines to add new direct flights – in particular from Paris and Moscow – to those already operating to Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

And as part of a current five-year, RMB300 billion (US$47 billion) infrastructure programme, Zheijang is scheduled to get 200 new hotels in the four- and five-star categories, he added.

The importance of the European tourism market was highlighted by the size and make-up of the visiting delegation, said UNWTO regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, Xu Jing. The delegation was headed by the provincial vice governor, Jianman Wang.

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