Bus in, bus out, camera around the neck and the same day to the next European country. The stereotypical image of the Asian tourist is changing. “They travel on their own, stay longer and really want to get to know the Netherlands.”
Until the outbreak of corona, the number of Chinese tourists increased rapidly. The number of visitors is expected to double in the next seven years. It is not only tourism from China that is growing fast. The number of visitors from countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam is also increasing.
Gabriëlla Esselbrugge is a catering entrepreneur in the Overijssel village of Giethoorn and is doing her best to improve Asian tourism. “The Chinese tourist is increasingly looking for an in-depth, authentic Dutch experience.”
Esselbrugge has seen the type of tourist change in recent years. “Chinese tourism has evolved from group trips to individuals seeking depth. They are small groups of travelers who plan their trip via their smartphone. They usually stay in the same place longer than more traditional tourists via bus trips.”
Strong growth in Chinese tourism
In 2019, even before the corona pandemic, 390,000 Chinese visited the Netherlands. The Netherlands Bureau for Tourism & Congresses (NBTC) expects that by 2030 the number of Chinese tourists will have almost doubled and the number will be around 665,000.
Amsterdam and Giethoorn are the absolute attractions, but shopkeepers also like to see Chinese visitors. The Chinese are ‘big spenders’. They spend by far the most of all tourists: In 2013, they spent 98 million euros. In 2019 that was already 155 million euros.
The Dutch tourism industry divides them into 4 categories: Chinese from rural areas or cities with a population of less than 1 million inhabitants, from cities up to 5 million inhabitants, from cities up to 30 million inhabitants and from megacities with more than 30 million inhabitants, such as Beijing and Shanghai.
Chinese from rural areas or from smaller provincial towns often come to Europe for the first time and more often travel in the traditional way: with a bus, short stops and several trips in a day. Chinese from the megacities are often younger, have a lot to spend, make their own plans and stay longer than 1 day in the Netherlands.
Fun and educational
Esselbrugge sees that many Chinese tourists also want to learn something. For example, they visit an agricultural company, just outside Giethoorn, that focuses on circularity and sustainability.
“The Netherlands is a leader in the agricultural and food sector. Many Chinese want to know more about this. They ask questions that we have never thought about. That is also very nice for us.”
Using knowledge in China
Many Chinese visitors are also interested in how tourism can also develop in rural areas. “Many of the young tourists from Shanghai or Beijing have parents and grandparents in the countryside,” says Esselbrugge.
“They want to use this knowledge about food production and tourism to apply in rural China. We also help them to implement that knowledge there.”
View the report here