Irish businesses take Chinese tourism course
Rapidly growing market has particular demands
Xi Jinping visits Croke Park in Dublin last year, before his election as president of China. Photograph: Alan Betson
A number of well-known Irish businesses are heading to Adare this week for a course on how to maximises the opportunities offered by the rapidly growing Chinese tourist market.
China recently outstripped Germany as the country from which most tourists travel abroad, and 95 million of its citizens will holiday in a foreign country this year, spending over $100 billion in the process.
Many will be heading to Europe. However, according to Prof Wolfgang Georg Arlt, a specialist in tourism management who has been visiting China since 1978, these cash-rich but time-poor visitors have particular demands. of their hosts.
In partnership with local firm Riordan’s Travel, his China Outbound Tourist Research Institute is running a two-day course at the Dunraven Arms in Adare, Co Limerick, from tomorrow on how to adapt to these demands. Participants will include the likes of Dromoland Castle, Luxury Ireland, Brown Thomas and the Guinness Store.
Prof Arlt explains the Chinese have specific expectations of a trip abroad, particularly a long and expensive one. While they don’t mind paying for something, they feel that to be kept waiting is a waste of time.
“To put it in a nutshell, Chinese tourists, when they come to a European country, they are not coming on holidays,” he says. “They come to gain prestige, to learn something, to see something and be able to brag about it when they go home. They want to be able to say that they played on this or that famous Irish golf course.”
He warns they may also have particular sensitivities, and can sometimes take poor service personally and interpret it as a slur on them or their culture. “Their government has told them that they are ambassadors and they take that seriously,” he says.
They are conscious of their country’s growing influence and like to see signs and information in Chinese, alongside other international languages.
Prof Arlt points out that as they come from a 4,500-year-old culture, they will not necessarily be impressed by something that we, or other tourists, regard as ancient.“You have to understand your customer and treat them accordingly,” he says.