ZIMBABWEis going to need to up its game in a bid to attract as much meaningful number of Chinese tourists to the country.
China is arguably the world’s largest contributor of outbound tourists according to UNWTO statistics and has been so for a number of years consecutively.
Chinese tourists are also the biggest spenders have spent about US$292 billion overseas in 2016 and are said to tend to spend more per person compared to tourists from other countries.
Their individual spend is about 2 times that of Americans, 3 times of German, 4 times of British and 6 times of the French spend.
Despite these lucrative opportunities being dangled by Chinese tourists, Zimbabwe only managed a meagre 19 000 tourists from China in 2018 up from 14 000 recorded in the previous year.
To make matters worse, China and Zimbabwe enjoy cordial relations and their friendship which have been described as being “all-weather” dates back to the time of the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe.
However, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira and her team from the various parastatal that fall under the ministry have set out to improve the arrival statistics from the Asian giant.
This quest though lucrative and appetising, it will not come cheap for Zimbabwe as the players and government must all warm up to the Chinese tourists through policy formulation and products tailoring.
Chinese are not an ordinary type of tourist, they are too cultural, in fact, they carry their tradition and practices with them wherever they go and the local tourism players will have to tailor their services and products to be China ready.
According to Welcome China chief executive Marcus Lee, “the Chinese people have different eating time than yours so you have to put that in mind when their eating time comes they will look at you because they would want to eat.
“So when you host Chinese tourists remember that they eat early breakfast between 6-8am, lunch is 11-1pm and dinner is at 6-7pm,” he said.
Among other things Zimbabwe is expected to do is to revise their visa regime for Chinese, put Chinese friendly signage at airports and the hospitality industry must come up with Chinese menu and menu books in the Chinese language among others.
Lee also said Zimbabwe need to also register with China’s Union Pay which is the Chinese only domestic bank card organisation so that it can start accepting payment through Union Pay.
Union Pay is arguably the biggest payment platform in the world and when Chinese citizens use it for payment s of goods and services abroad; they are exempted from card charges.
The China Ready Program trainer also called on Zimbabwe to consider focusing on Chinese Festivals such as Chinese New Year and Moon Festivals as a way of attracting the tourists adding that Chinese take these events seriously.
“Make Chinese New Year, the most important festival for Chinese your target, do some promotions especially on rates and you can check on Google what other countries are doing about it.
“The second biggest festival is Mid-Autumn Festival also known as the moon festival look at the airport welcomes that other countries are doing for Chinese tourists, so formulate strategies to promote Chinese festivals,” he said.