Spain readies welcome mat for Chinese visitors

Turespana, or Tour Spain, in Guangzhou is the first European NTO to partner COTRI (China Outbound Tourism Research Institute) in its Advantage: Tourism (A:T) programme to reboot business from China.

COTRI CEO, Wolfgang Georg Arlt, said: “With the progress of testing and vaccination, the easing of restrictions can be expected in the coming months. What is important is to prepare now for the new wave of Chinese outbound tourists to stay ahead of the competition.”

Spain expects 300,000 visitors from China this year; tourists at Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain pictured

Spanish stakeholders participating in A:T include DMOs and NTOs that support tourism, food, and others, he added.

According to COTRI, only a trickle of Chinese living within the Schengen Area are crossing into Spain, but is predicting “a deluge once virus-related restrictions are lifted”. As for Greater China, Spain is already receiving visitors from Macau, Arlt noted.

China sent 700,000 visitors to Spain in 2019. That number dropped to 100,000 in 2020 – mostly in January and February – due to travel bans implemented amid the pandemic.

With the vaccine rollout globally, Spain is expecting 300,000 visitors from China this year. Most are expected to arrive in the second-half of the year, and will originate from first- and second-tier cities like before.

Arlt said content for Tour Spain’s pilot project focuses on gastronomy and shopping for local products, and is in line with the overall plans for tourism development in 2021 and steps for further digitalisation. Technology partners in A:T are Planet, Tencent Cloud International and TCI Research.

Meanwhile, another European partner will join the A:T programme this month and COTRI is in discussion with several other partners, including big attractions, international hospitality and transportation companies.

The aim of A:T, launched late last year, is to focus on delivering quality, bespoke products to different Chinese source market segments to create new demand in different parts of a destination at different times of the year; and to recommend management practices to promote sustainability.

The programme audits and analyses existing and possible new offers with stakeholders learning via online China Tourism Training and accessing a private-public sector partnership task force to match bespoke offers and source market segments.

A:T solutions, according to COTRI, are based on sustainable, long-term development approaches to benefit guests, the host community and those working in the industry to improve yield and market share, and to minimise the ecological footprint.

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