Prior to the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Chinese tourists held the distinction of being the most financially lucrative group of visitors to Switzerland. According to Switzerland Tourism, these visitors were spending an impressive average of 380 Swiss francs ($425) per person per day. This high level of expenditure underscored the significant economic contribution made by Chinese tourists to the Swiss tourism industry.
In the year 2019, Switzerland witnessed a remarkable influx of Chinese travelers, with the number of overnight stays by Chinese guests reaching a noteworthy 1.8 million. This surge positioned mainland China as the fourth-largest source market for Switzerland, highlighting the substantial interest the Chinese people had in exploring the Swiss landscape and experiencing its unique offerings. However, the subsequent years bore witness to a sharp decline in visitor numbers, with only 2 to 10 percent of 2019’s totals recorded during each of the past three years.
Despite the challenging circumstances, there are now encouraging signs of recovery in the Chinese tourist market. Visa demand, an important indicator of travel intent, has rebounded to reach 30 percent of the levels observed in 2019. This resurgence in visa applications signifies a growing interest among Chinese tourists to once again embark on journeys to Switzerland, suggesting a gradual return to pre-pandemic travel patterns.
This positive trend instills hope in the Swiss tourism industry, as it anticipates the revival of Chinese tourism and the subsequent boost to the country’s economy. The gradual recovery of Chinese tourism presents a promising opportunity for businesses interested in tapping into this market in 2023.
Tourism in Switzerland
Before the pandemic, in 2018, the tourism industry played a significant role in Switzerland’s economy, contributing 2.9% to the country’s GDP. It also served as a major source of employment, employing approximately 181,700 people in full-time equivalents, which accounted for 4.4% of total employment in the country. The economic impact extended further with international travel receipts amounting to CHF 16.6 billion, representing 4.1% of total exports. Notably, travel exports constituted a substantial portion of total service exports, accounting for 13.4% in 2018.
The year 2018 witnessed a remarkable influx of international tourists, with a recorded count of 11.7 million visitors. These tourists contributed to an impressive 21.4 million overnight stays, comprising 55.1% of the total 38.8 million overnight stays recorded in the hotel sector—an all-time high. This growth marked a positive shift, as nights spent in hotel establishments by international tourists increased by 4.5% compared to the previous year.
The thriving tourism industry not only bolstered the economy but also stimulated the hospitality sector, creating a significant demand for accommodation services. The surge in overnight stays highlighted the allure of Switzerland as a preferred travel destination among international travelers, demonstrating the country’s ability to attract and cater to a diverse range of visitors.
Chinese travelers played a noteworthy role in Switzerland’s tourism landscape in 2018. China was the fourth largest contributor to Switzerland’s tourism market, making up 7.5% of its foreign tourists. Their presence and contributions further accentuated the significance of the Chinese market for the Swiss tourism industry.
Chinese tourists, known for their affinity for exploring new destinations and experiencing different cultures, were an important segment of the international tourist arrivals in Switzerland. Their interest in Switzerland’s picturesque landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage made them a sought-after target for the country’s tourism sector.
The allure of Switzerland’s natural beauty, including the Swiss Alps, pristine lakes, and charming towns, resonated strongly with Chinese travelers. The country’s reputation for offering high-quality tourism services and its commitment to providing exceptional experiences to visitors from around the world were key factors that attracted Chinese travelers.
Chinese tourists are big spenders, who are not afraid to spend their money on luxury or shopping trips. That is very positive for the Switzerland tourism industry. Tourists from China represent a real mine of gold for Switzerland.
In China, going on vacation in Switzerland is synonymous with well-being and wealth. Switzerland is a dream destination that is extremely expensive and is very favored by rich Chinese citizens.
In Switzerland, the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists are Lucerne and its surroundings. Sibylle Gerardi, responsible for communication at Lucerne Tourism said: “The Chinese are today in the region (Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Nidwalden, and Obwalden) our second market after Swiss tourists”. The tourist office invests a lot to seduce.
For Switzerland Tourism, China is a strategic market: “They have a high growth potential more than average,” said Veronique Kanel, spokesman for Switzerland Tourism.
Chinese President Xi Jinpings’ visit to Switzerland
Switzerland Tourism is given intended to step up its promotional activities in China, creating several events on-site. This new program allowed to development of many approaches including participation in a major show dedicated to winter sports.
In total, Switzerland Tourism had planned to invest that year 3.9 million francs in Chinese market operations or the 6.4% of its annual marketing budget.
The strategy chosen by Switzerland Tourism is to target wealthy Chinese tourists, who already know Europe for coming at least once already, and who dream to offer a great vacation, traveling individually or in a small group.
Moreover, with the arrival of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese have a greater interest in the activities of gliding. But only those who have plenty of money can come to Europe to ski.
For example, Champéry made considerable efforts to welcome Chinese tourists and reduce culture shock. For proof, thanks to Suissechic, two Chinese chefs worked at a restaurant in the station. Thus, tourists were able to find the flavors of their country. Furthermore, a translator was available to them.
The strengths of Switzerland for many Chinese tourists
Switzerland quickly seduced Chinese tourists traveling abroad, because the country has what Chinese tourists are looking for when they go on a trip abroad.
There are no Swiss regions that don’t feed some tourist ambition, with its many hotels and luxury shops that allow the Chinese shoppers to indulge in their favorite pastime on a trip. 50% of the budget of Chinese tourists is indeed dedicated to shopping.
Switzerland has also adapted to Chinese consumers by including the possibility to pay for purchases with union pay, a payment system with which almost all Chinese Bank cards will work.
Another charm of Switzerland for Chinese tourists: the mountain resorts, for mountaineering and hiking in the summer, or for skiing in the winter, as well as stations on a lake for water activities. In addition, many cities are tourist destinations and many rustic areas, including the long chain of the Jura.
For tourists, the Alps are indisputably the big attraction. In summer, they come for hiking and climbing in the winter for snow and skiing.
How to attract Chinese tourists to Switzerland?
The Chinese market is renowned for its fierceness and competitive nature. When it comes to attracting and captivating Chinese tourists and converting them into clients, the strategy must be unique, fragmented, and dynamic within the ever-evolving landscape of China’s social media platforms.
Chinese tourists place great importance on being exposed to rich and authentic content before committing their interest. They seek genuine experiences that provide them with a true sense of the destination’s culture, history, and unique offerings. In order to successfully tap into this market, tourism agencies must first understand the expectations of Chinese tourists and adapt their services accordingly.
Chinese tourists appreciate cultural sensitivity and personalized experiences. Ensure your marketing materials and services reflect an understanding of Chinese customs, traditions, and preferences. This may include providing Chinese language support, offering familiar Chinese cuisine options, and accommodating specific requirements such as WeChat Pay or Alipay payment methods.
Chinese travelers have become increasingly sophisticated in their choices and preferences. They are drawn to high-quality services and experiences that are authentic and exclusive in nature. This discerning clientele appreciates the attention to detail, personalized touches, and a focus on providing exceptional service.
Google is blocked in China, companies that understand this will have a competitive advantage because they will build up a better online image and reputation.
Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, website in Mandarin, and optimizing your online presence for Baidu search is crucial. Conduct keyword research to identify popular search terms and incorporate them into your website content, meta tags, and headers.
Creating localized landing pages in Chinese with relevant, informative, and engaging content will improve your visibility on Baidu and increase organic traffic to your website.
Chinese Social Media Platforms
Chinese tourists heavily rely on social media for travel inspiration, recommendations, and information. Establishing a strong presence on popular platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin (also known as TikTok) is essential.
- Create engaging content in Chinese that showcases the unique aspects of Switzerland, such as stunning landscapes, cultural experiences, and local attractions.
- Collaborate with key opinion leaders (KOLs) or influencers in the travel and lifestyle niche to amplify your reach and credibility among Chinese audiences.
- Encourage Chinese tourists to share their experiences in Switzerland through user-generated content (UGC). Organize contests or campaigns that incentivize travelers to post pictures, videos, and reviews of their trips to Switzerland on social media platforms.
This type of authentic content generated by fellow Chinese tourists can significantly influence others’ travel decisions and create a sense of trust and excitement around visiting Switzerland.
Chinese Travel Apps
Partner with popular Chinese travel apps such as Ctrip, Qunar, or Fliggy to promote your destination and offer exclusive deals or packages. These platforms are widely used by Chinese travelers for booking flights, accommodations, and local activities.
By featuring on these apps, you can increase your visibility and attract potential visitors to Switzerland.
Collaborations with Chinese Travel Agencies
Establish partnerships with reputable Chinese online travel agencies that specialize in outbound tourism. These travel companies can help you tap into their established networks, access their customer base, and benefit from their expertise in promoting Swiss destinations to Chinese travelers.
Targeting Chinese Travelers: Partner with Our Agency for Success
At our agency, with over 20 years of experience, we are here to support businesses in attracting Chinese customers to Switzerland. Our dedicated focus on Chinese social media channels and our deep understanding of the digital landscape in China make us the ideal partner for your marketing needs.
Our agency’s target is to be renowned as a trusted Chinese social media channel that supports our clients in effectively engaging with Chinese travelers. We aim to educate and explain how digital strategies work in China, demonstrating our industry expertise and commitment to your success.
Whether you are a Swiss tourist agency, hotel, transportation provider, lodging establishment, entertainment service, tour guide, travel agent, or Swiss tour operator, we have the knowledge and skills to help you enter and thrive in the Chinese market. We understand the nuances of attracting Chinese tourists and can guide you in improving your online visibility to ensure you receive a steady influx of Chinese visitors.
By partnering with us, you can benefit from our comprehensive understanding of the Chinese tourism landscape, our proficiency in Baidu SEO, and social media marketing, and our ability to tailor strategies that resonate with Chinese travelers. We guarantee that our expertise will help you attract more Chinese tourists and grow your tourism business in China.
Contact us today and let us assist you in unlocking the vast potential of the Chinese market. Together, we can enhance your online presence, increase your visibility, and ultimately drive more Chinese tourists to experience the wonders of Switzerland.