Eco-tourism is a rapidly growing industry in China, as more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of preserving the natural environment. With its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, China is a prime destination for eco-tourists from around the world. From the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas to the tropical rainforests of Yunnan, there is no shortage of breathtaking scenery to explore.
In recent years, the Chinese government has taken steps to promote eco-tourism, recognizing its potential to create jobs and boost local economies while also protecting the environment. As a result, eco-tourism is booming in China and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
What is eco-tourism?
Ecotourism is a concept that embodies the essence of what it is to travel responsibly and sustainably. It must in fact merge respect for the environment, society, and culture of a place visited with local economic development and visitor satisfaction.
Ecotourism ranges from luxury eco-lodges in tropical areas, to alternative tourist paths between mountain villages, to hospitality in low-cost accommodation facilities, and to the purchase of exclusively local products.
But it is sometimes also just philosophy, mentality, and style of travel. For many, in fact, ecotourism does not mean anything other than traveling respectfully and in harmony with the host countries, taking fewer pictures and more conversation, getting out of their own canons of life and consumption, and adapting for a few.
In a market, international tourism, which handles more than 700 billion dollars a year in turnover, even a small but growing niche is a potential gold mine. But this is also why the term ecotourism is unfortunately spent abused by resorts that have nothing, that so-called “greenwashing”, just like the growing number of brands that claim that their products are sustainable, but without specifying exactly how.
The dilemma obviously could not lead to the proliferation of dozens of certification systems of the “green labels” that formalize the commitment to the sustainability of a receptive structure. Among those internationally recognized we mention Ecolabel Index, The Green, and Green Globeeks as alternative styles.
A new kind of Chinese tourist?
The tourism sector in China is experiencing a real revolution. Tired of being a mere spectator, the Chinese traveler leaves the broken lines for the desire to feel the protagonist of the journey undertaken.
The Chinese tourist 2.0, especially the millennial, eschews more and more the ‘mass’ holiday: he is looking for more man-made destinations, and suitable for slow, relaxed, sleepy but mysterious and able to respect the environment.
The mantra of the new traveler is that a country is not only its capital, and that is why it is increasingly moving towards less explored paths to discover ‘authentic’ and uncontaminated places.
Bio and green energy
According to a study done, promoted by Espresso Green Communication for ConWood, 42% of Chinese tourists prefer eco-friendly accommodation and tourist destinations, and want to take environmentally friendly actions, even on holiday.
From the use of green energy, to biological or zero-kilometer supplies, from separate waste collection to consumption reduction. These are some of the good practices that, according to the survey, decree the success of accommodation facilities and tourist locations.
This interest is mainly found among young people (58%), and among people from large metropolitan cities such as Shanghai (57%) and Beijing (52%).
Why is ecotourism growing in China?
But what drives an increasing number of visitors to deviate from traditional rules and endure high prices and uncomfortable beds in the name of ecotourism? At the base, there is undoubtedly a genuine spirit of conservation and respect for the places visited and the desire to contribute positively with their choices.
More than 80% of respondents to a survey conducted by the Greenme Foundation consider the sustainability of the holiday “a necessity”, and almost 60% say they are willing to pay more.
This is a fairly rare case in the green economy especially for Chinese, where consumers’ choices or behaviors are often driven by the logic of “appearing” and since “stand out” in economic terms means to describe consumption, and the practices of the perfect ecolodge are obviously expensive you inevitably get to pay more for lodgings or tours that would have otherwise been discarded in equal footing. Is it the price to get right with your conscience?
What are the reasons that push Chinese travelers to prefer eco-sustainable holidays? According to the study, in the first place, there would be a greater awareness of its environmental impact.
To follow there’s the desire to know the local cultural and enogastronomic traditions, the desire to get in touch with nature, the need to dedicate oneself to personal psycho-physical well-being by practicing sporting activities, and the possibility of contributing to the support of the economy and local development.
Reach your Eco-friendly tourist in China
Even if you are popular anywhere in the world and do not equip yourself with an evolved strategy aimed at China, you are cut off from the games: the one that we propose here is a list of some main steps to follow to reach the Chinese tourist market.
Websites and travel blogs are always the most used resource by tourists in general and this does not change for Chinese tourists.
They are especially interested in planning a trip abroad and in the case of eco-friendly to see if the structure or service reserves a sustainable policy.
For a website, simple translations are not enough. It is necessary to have a .cn address as it helps with the loading of the page, but if you do not have a business license in China, you may need an agency to make this registration for you.
Also, remember that now 80% of Chinese people search through the phone so a mobile version will help you with your business.
The fundamental point is to do SEO on Baidu. Baidu, compared to Google, gives much more weight to the keywords in the anchored texts.
For this, it is necessary that all the anchor texts to internal links contain selected, relevant, and well-optimized keywords.
It does little to sign up for platforms like Booking or Expedia, in fact, online booking operators in China are Ctrip, Qunar, and eLong, or even travel sites like Tuniu and QYER, Mafengwo, and China’s TripAdvisor. In these types of websites, we rely heavily on the content generated by users, and their reviews.
It will therefore be necessary to create a company profile, share content, and manage reviews, but even if you rely on online operators will be good as they offer good advertising packages.
Spread the word on WeChat
Through the creation and use of WeChat you can brand your services. With an official account, companies have a sort of Web page in WeChat, which allows them to share information, connect to external websites, promote campaigns, and provide services to customers inside the app.
A good way to show and promote your destination is the use of WeChat Moments which is the “visible” part of WeChat where users can share stories, photos, and videos, similar to Instagram.
In addition, Wechat offers the possibility of being close to customers and communicating with them and with new and old partners.
This is also the result of customer service or the WeChat Chatbots.
Finally, the mini-programs are very useful if you want to create a guide within your location or some package for excursions, etc.
Collaborate with KOLs
In addition to the various research on the sites and e-reputation, another very important factor for Chinese travelers is if a trip is promoted by their favorite influencers.
Actually, the so-called KOLs are the biggest success in China and considered the mouth of truth when it comes to planning long-awaited journeys!
A collaboration with Key Opinion Leaders is a powerful tool for companies to increase the possibility of being known and creating loyalty from customers.
In China, the boom in a fast internet network has led to a doubling of streaming video content compared to other countries. Signing up and opening your channel on apps such as Youku and Yizhibo to sponsor your business or destination is a good strategy to use. Living already on video is an aspect that is well-seen by the Chinese who are preparing for a trip.
In the Yunnan Province of China, the Lashi Lake Nature Reserve has become a successful example of ecotourism. The reserve covers an area of 67 square kilometers and is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species.
In the past, the local community relied on fishing and farming for their livelihoods, which led to overfishing and deforestation in the area. However, with the introduction of ecotourism, the community has been able to preserve the natural environment while also generating income.
The Lashi Lake Nature Reserve offers visitors a range of activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and cultural experiences with the local Yi ethnic group. The local community is heavily involved in the tourism industry, providing accommodation, food, and guiding services.
The success of the ecotourism industry in Lashi Lake has led to the conservation of the natural environment and the protection of endangered species. It has also provided economic opportunities for the local community, reducing their reliance on unsustainable practices.
Overall, the Lashi Lake Nature Reserve serves as a model for sustainable ecotourism in China and demonstrates the potential for conservation and economic development to coexist.
We are your local partner in China!
Eco-tourism is indeed on the rise in China. This is evidenced by the increasing number of tourists visiting eco-friendly destinations, the growing number of eco-tourism companies and initiatives, and the government’s efforts to promote sustainable tourism practices.
It is likely that this trend will continue as more people become aware of the importance of preserving the environment and seek out travel experiences that allow them to do so.
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