SA Tourism, in collaboration with Wesgro, V&A Waterfront and The Table Bay Hotel, hosted a China Ready Workshop in Cape Town on December 3, to share valuable insights with the local tourism trade on the China outbound tourism market.

“The workshop has been designed to give South Africa’s tourism trade vital information on how to enter the lucrative Chinese outbound travel market,” said Mansoor Mohamed, SA Tourism’s Hub Head for the Asia Pacific region who is based in Beijing, who led the workshop. “China is currently the world’s biggest outbound travel market and SA Tourism’s Asia Pacific team is working very hard and smart to gain market share,” he continued.

The workshop covered a detailed overview of the media and marketing landscape in China, and offered advice to delegates on how to enhance the visitor experience for the Chinese traveller.

CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris, commented that the workshop was perfectly timed with Cathay Pacific launching a direct flight between Hong Kong and Cape Town last month, connecting China directly to the Cape for the first time. “More work needs to be done in attracting Chinese tourists,” continued Harris, “but there are already positive signs with spend and length of stay increasing in 2017 compared to that of 2016”.

SA Tourism further presented its 2019 Asia Pacific Roadshow to the delegates, planned for June and July 2019.

Six key China outbound travel insights shared were:

  • China is expected to grow from an estimated 140 million travellers in 2018 to 250 million in 2025.
  • SA will receive an estimated 100 000 of these travellers in 2018, with an average stay of nine days, and an estimated impact of R1.4bn (€90.36m) for the six months ending June 2018.
  • While packaged tours are still popular for Chinese travellers to SA, travel habits are changing and they are moving towards FIT tours.
  • The number of repeat travellers from China to SA is over 50%, indicating that first time travellers are seeing SA as safe, secure and a value-adding destination.
  • Chinese travellers primarily visit Chinese-language websites to book their travel, so it is advisable for SA businesses to establish good relationships with local tourism players in China.
  • The number of smartphone users in China is estimated at 750 million users – more than three times the size of the United States; with the average Chinese person spending an average of four hours on his/her mobile device daily.

“It is important for tourism businesses in SA to realise the benefits of becoming China ready. There are risks and rewards associated with doing business in China; more informed decisions can be made if one understand these risks,” concluded Mohamed.