Chinese tourism in Argentina: challenges, promotion and obstacles of a market with enormous potential

Even before the pandemic Argentina it was China’s most important tourist market in the region. a little less than 80,000 Chinese tourists arrived in the country in 2019, an important but at the same time tiny figure out of a total of 140 million vacationers who are estimated to have left the Asian giant that same year to different destinations in the world.

The calculation is simple: Argentina captured, before the start of the health emergency, barely 0.05% of the slice of millionaire income generated by the emerging Chinese tourism.

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“You have to have a short, medium and long term plan. Let’s think that in China in 2019 140 million tourists went to the whole world. If 1% of those 140 million comes to Argentina, there will be 1.4 million. That needs a lot of work. I think a real figure for the short and medium term could be 100 thousand tourists“, said to TN chinese businesswoman Xialonin Dumember of the Argentine-Chinese Chamber and owner of the Dowin travel agency.

Matías Lammens signed an agreement to promote Chinese tourism in Argentina

Argentina is one of the most remote tourist places of China on the planet. The high cost of the trip is a negative point, but at the same time the distance positions the country as a “exotic destination”.

In this framework, in March 2021, the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Matías Lammens, and the CEO of the international online travel agency Trip.com, Jane Sunsigned a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of strengthening the travel market pospandemia between both countries.

Argentina bets on the growth of Chinese tourism (Photo: Adobe Stock)For: Atstock Productions – stock.adob

“Our goal is for more Chinese tourists to visit our country and for Argentina is established as the gateway to the South American region. We know that we have particular attractions of great interest for this market such as Antarctica, the City of Buenos Aires or the Iguazú Falls”, Lammens assured at the time.

The agreement sought to strengthen the brand image of Argentine tourism with multimarketing tools to reach more Chinese consumers and contribute to the recovery of the Argentine tourism market. Also incorporate Argentina into the initiative One Belt One Roadwhose purpose is to position and connect China with the 5 continents.

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“Today we have a very small portion. There is a very large market to grow. Argentina is promoting itself and the idea is to grow”, they told TN sources from the Ministry of Tourism.

Obstacles, challenges and promotion of Chinese tourism to Argentina

In a work prepared by the Argentine-Chinese Chamber, a series of questions and advice were formulated to promote Chinese tourism in Argentina. Among other points, it was detailed:

  • In China, the Argentine Country Brand linked to tourism is weak.
  • The processing of visas for Chinese tourists is the biggest obstacle to the promotion of tourism. A large number of Chinese tourists with a US visa cannot apply for the AVE VISA (Electronic Travel Authorization) because it is obtained a few days before the travel date. “Visa procedures need to be simplified. Those who need a visa do not have time to do so many errands. They also come from far away, on a 30-hour trip, and want to visit two or three countries. Procedures at each consulate take two weeks and up to a month. The process can be simplified with a regional visa”, proposed the businesswoman Xialonin Du.
  • There are several challenges in relation to bilingual tour guides in Spanish and Chinese in the country: they are scarce, they require training and in the interior of the country they do not have a valid license to carry out their work creating, among other things, cost overruns on group travel.
Some 80 thousand Chinese tourists visited Argentina in 2019
Some 80 thousand Chinese tourists visited Argentina in 2019
  • There are no direct flights to Argentina. It is important to strengthen air connections, especially since the cessation of operations of the routes to China through Doha or Dubai. To travel to or from China you have to do at least one technical stopover.
  • The tChinese outbound tourism to Argentina is underdeveloped. At a strategic level, a state and business articulation is important in the promotion of tourism and the Argentine Country Brand in China, mainly with a presence in Tourism Fairs, in Chinese social networks and through strategic agreements with China.

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  • The national receptive tourist offer, in terms of services and physical infrastructure, especially in the interior of the country, is poorly adapted to the needs of Chinese tourists. In addition, in times of high local demand there is a scarcity of resources.

What is the profile of the Chinese tourist who visits Argentina

In dialogue with TNthe businesswoman Xiaolin Dubased since 2000 in Argentina, gave details about the profile of the Chinese tourist.

It is usually a person high purchasing powerwhich in general spend between 300 and 500 dollars per daystays in 5 star hotels and the average of each stay is 5 or 6 nights.

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The trip always includes the City of Buenos Aires, visits to national parks, Ushuaia, Iguazú, Mendoza and occasionally even cruises to Antarctica. “Then they like to shop, return to China with lots of gifts and attend tango shows-scenes”, he commented.

How to attract Chinese tourists: strategies to boost the Argentine brand

The Argentine-Chinese Chamber stated that the main opportunity to attract more Chinese tourists to the country lies in the Chinese digital ecosystem and more specifically in local social networks. This is where Chinese citizens define their trips and interact. The two most typical examples are the WeChat platform (the Chinese WhatsApp), which has more than 1.2 billion active users, and Weibo, the microblogging network with more than 300 million daily users.

Argentina wants to boost Chinese tourism to the country (Photo: Adobe Stock)
Argentina wants to boost Chinese tourism to the country (Photo: Adobe Stock)For: Maridav – stock.adobe.com

The report highlighted the need to promoting campaigns on specialized tourism platforms como Ctrip, Qunar, Fliggy, Mafangwo y Tuniu.

In addition, the camera asked ffacilitate the stay of Chinese tourists by promoting the use of posters and information translated into Mandarin. He also requested to incorporate staff with knowledge of Chinese culturedesignated rooms without the number four (associated with death), that have electric kettles, slippers, Chinese television channels, payment methods such as Unionpay and electronic wallets such as Alipay and Wechatpay, restaurants with hours compatible with Chinese customs and letter in Chinese language.

Chinese tourism in Argentina: challenges, promotion and obstacles of a market with enormous potential