Regional and longhaul NTO speakers at a recent Dragon Trail International (DTI) webinar on Destination Marketing for Chinese Tourism Recovery say targeted use of social media during the pandemic and after the market opened on January 8, is bearing fruit.
Apart from WeChat, the Twitter-like Sina Weibo, short video app Douyin, Kuaishou, Xiaohongshu and Bilibili are some of the platforms used by South Africa Tourism (SAT), Switzerland Tourism (ST) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
Speakers claimed the use of China-specific social media platforms and livestreaming with key opinion leaders (KOLs) have helped the NTOs stay top of mind with travellers and B2B partners kept up-to-date.
Rung Kanjanaviroj, director, TAT, Chengdu Office, shared that February/March numbers were twice that of January with 300,000 Chinese travellers as of March 7. TAT is expecting five million visitors in 2023 compared to 11 million in 2019.
For ST, Daniela Chiani, director, Greater China, said China recovery, with current levels of air capacity, was at around 40 to 45 per cent.
For SAT, Mansoor Mohamed, hub head Asia-Pacific, noted luxury travellers were willing to pay top dollar for 15-day trips, but South Africa is facing a challenge as its visa office was not able to cope with the demand.
SAT is targeting travellers from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, ST on “the big cities with direct access”, while TAT is eyeing second-tier cities such as Chongqing, Shaanxi, Ningxia and Gansu.
Livestreaming experiences included ST’s fondue making and eating sessions and KOLs in South Africa have livestreamed safari sunsets while interacting with viewers in China, and TAT was “seeing results” with its livestreaming product sales.
Mansoor commented that livestreaming, with some 250,000 live views, “generated awareness and positivity” and was “very exciting” for followers of KOLs.
DTI director of marketing and communications, Sienna Parulis-Cook, observed Chinese travellers were interested to interact on social media platforms and NTOs were not just “putting information out there”.
While familiarisation trips and face-to-face roadshows have resumed, the NTOs said the resumption of more flights was necessary for the full recovery of Chinese tourism.