How Cambodia is expecting a growth in tourism with Chinese tourists?

During the COVID-19 the tourism industry was one of the most damaged sectors. Companies operating in the travel and tourism sector suffered losses, particularly in some sectors such as hotel, travel agency, restaurant and car rental sectors.

Chinese tourism in Cambodia

China has become the largest source of foreign tourists to Cambodia since 2017. China is a huge market for its tourism industry.

The report released by Cambodia’s Tourism ministry said that about 683,436 Chinese tourists visited Cambodia in the first quarter of 2019, up 35.1 percent over the same period last year.

China remained the largest source of foreign tourists to the Southeast Asian country, accounting for 36.4 percent of the total foreign arrivals during the January-March period this year.

Tourism is one of four sectors supporting Cambodia’s economy. Last year, the country received 6.2 million foreign tourists including 2 million Chinese, earning gross revenue of $4.35 billion dollars, adding that tourism contributed 12.7 percent to the country’s GDP.

Cambodia is mostly famous for three world heritage sites :

  • the Angkor archeological park
  • the Preah Vihear temple
  • the Sambor Prei Kuk archeological site.

Post-Covid19 tourism in Cambodia

The Covid-19 pandemic had made a profound impact on the country’s tourism. However, the tourism minister is optimistic that Chinese tourists would support the Cambodia’s tourism growth when the Covid-19 is over.

Cambodia’s tourism industry, which amounted to 4.92 billion U.S. dollars, is currently being hit hardest by the pandemic. Tourism data showed that Cambodia received a total of 223,400 foreign tourists in March, a decrease of 65 percent over the same month last year.

Secretary of state and spokesman of the Tourism Ministry Top Sopheak said, “Before Covid-19, the Angkor archeological park in Siem Reap province received up to 9,000 foreign tourists a day, but now, it gets only 20 per day and those are foreigners living and working in Cambodia.”

Cambodia has banned the entry of foreign visitors from six countries -since mid-March and has imposed entry restrictions for all foreigners since March 30 to curb Covid-19.

Although Cambodia has detected no new Covid-19 cases for over one month, there are still only a few foreign tourists coming to the country because they’re still scared of the virus and travel restrictions remain.

Cambodia strategy to attract Chinese tourists

Health and safety measures

After Covid-19 safety and security will clearly be top priorities for Chinese as well as international travelers in the immediate future. Cambodia’s strategy to attract tourists during the post-Covid19 era will focus on hygiene, health, and social distancing on buses, hotels, and restaurants.

Chinese tourists will be the main driver of tourism growth in Cambodia after the pandemic, and tour and travel companies will unveil new tour packages to attract Chinese tourists when the pneumonia-causing virus is over.

To be ready to receive Chinese tourists during the post-COVID-19 era, Cambodia will continue to promote the “China Ready” strategy and urge tourism businesses and other tourism destinations to further implement health and safety measures for all tourists.

During COVID-19 many hotels like Terres Rouges in Ratanakiri province and Rajabori Villa in Kratie province, have been closed temporarily as there were no customers. And in a new post-covid19 phase they are taking hygiene and health measures by screening guests’ temperatures routinely, providing them with alcohol or antibacterial gel for handwashing, and keeping social distancing among them.

How brands can attract Chinese tourists post-covid19 era?

In addition to safety, health, and hygiene measures, What should a brand focus on to attract Chinese tourists to its restaurants and hotels?

Chinese’s destination choice depends on several factors :

The availability of Chinese online payments

Every country has its own favorite payment method. And that is how many foreign companies failed having entered the Chinese market – they didn’t understand Chinese people’s reluctance to use PayPal, which may be accepted internationally, but is not as trusted (and convenient) as local solutions in China. Chinese platforms mostly rely on an escrow function, which is highly appreciated by Chinese customers as they tend not to trust merchants. Therefore, I’d even risk a statement that people in China are not very likely to buy from websites which only accept credit card payments.

In China the three most popular online payments are Wechat pay, Alipay, and UnionPay, therefore brands should focus on providing this kind of service on booking channels and websites.

China Booking channels

OTA is the way to go for Chinese tourists

Booking channels are fundamental in China because most Chinese tourists use the web to organize their trip, this leads to “what are the preferred booking channels for Chinese travelers?”

The top four are Ctrip, Mafengwo, and Fliggy. While Ctrip is favored for booking hotels, Alibaba’s Fliggy is more likely to appeal to a young generation as a pre-trip discovery and booking tool in China

Chinese OTA more than Booking Platform

These platforms collect a wide range of information related to travel experiences, essential for the Chinese who intend to plan a tour abroad.

You can find travel guides, maps, itineraries full of ideas, and useful elements that Chinese travelers can refer to. What is most striking about the Chinese travel apps is how crucial and essential is the sharing of experience for the Chinese tourist.

Currently, there is no Chinese who does not have a smartphone, with apps and related tools. For this, the interconnection with their friends and followers online becomes viral among the Chinese who, for their own pleasure and for the knowledge of others, continually share photos, reviews, and feedback of their travel experiences.

That’s why having an account on these channels is essential for brands to increase their brand awareness and attract Chinese tourists on their websites.

Ctrip: King of OTA

Ctrip is China’s largest online travel agency, offering a very wide range of services. For example, booking accommodation, transport tickets, tourist packages, or corporate travel management services.

Unlike Western agencies, Ctrip attracts the attention of many Chinese influencers, called KOL (Key Opinion Leaders), who often tag the agency online in their posts with travel reservations, ticket photos, and so on.

In this way, brand visibility increases a lot and more and more people are turning to it. For this reason, those who want to host Chinese tourists must absolutely be indexed inside.

Mafengwo: a Much loved Travel Forum

Mafengwo was founded in 2010. This Travel-App allows you to consult forums, feedbacks, reviews of all kinds, which the Chinese write following their travel experiences (especially those abroad).

For information on hotels, flights, trains, destinations, the Chinese refer to this platform. The modern Chinese traveler, in fact, consults a lot of forums and reviews, in order to find as much information as possible to compare and choose the most congenial solution to his needs.

To date, Mafengwo has over 120 million users (100 million actives per month), a level of Q&A engagement of over 700 thousand, over $ 1.5 billion generated by transactions on the App

Fliggy: eCommerce OTP by Alibaba

Fliggy is the online travel platform of the Alibaba Group. As an online travel platform (OTP) it provides direct access between customers and airlines, hotels, rail operators, and more.

Brands and companies can collect data directly from customers by selling their products and gaining exposure for their brand.

In March 2019, Fliggy integrated e-commerce into the app. The part dedicated to shopping can be found on the home page just below the booking services for transport, accommodation and tourist sites.

Users can browse and select products, pay, and choose the time and place of collection. Paying in advance guarantees their purchase and allows them to avoid the queues.

Chinese website on Baidu

To reach faster Chinese consumers you can also create a Chinese website, to make them understand faster and feel more familiar with the website.

Having a Chinese website is important because it determines the reliability of the brand. In addition a Baidu SEO optimization is important because it allows companies to improve their brand awareness and brand identity online.

In China, where the Internet penetration rate reaches 59%, the power of a good SEO strategy cannot and should not be underestimated.

Build e-reputations from other Chinese tourists

In these platforms KOLs play an important role in managing social media because Chinese consumers tend to trust information delivered by people much more than the one promoted via traditional channels, especially people with knowledge and experience about the topic like a restaurant and a hotel.

Online reputation on the most important social media in China

As the importance and widespread use of social media in China, a strong presence on important platforms like Wechat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu are essential. A brand should open an account on Chinese social media to promote the brand’s value and products and to interact with Chinese consumers.

Wechat Marketing for Tourism

The travel market is dominated by WeChat which is an integral part of every moment of daily life in China and has a stronghold on young consumers.

Among Chinese millennials who want to travel over the wall, about 80% consult the official WeChat accounts of their favorite destinations every day, while 87% chat or share posts with friends.

WeChat plays such a fundamental role in tourism because it gives the opportunity to share travel images, photos of famous people, and travel bloggers who have a strong influence on the public.

We must not forget that thanks to the mini-programs on WeChat it is easier to be found thanks to geolocation. The possibility of online payment and enhanced interaction is key to the foreign tourism business.

If you want Chinese tourists to know who you are and come to spend their holidays with you, you have to have a presence on WeChat.

Weibo: a good way to promote a destination

Weibo is a social media very similar to Facebook, for this reason it is an excellent channel for gathering the sentiment, insights, and new travel desires of the Chinese public.

In 2019 Weibo noticed a general increase in the presence of travel content, especially those related to culture, experience, rural or ecological tourism.

For example, keywords related to cultural travel have been published over 500 million times, so they have increased by 14%. At the same time, it appears that the content relating to these keywords has been read 1.6 billion times, recording a 28% increase.

These data are due to the structure of Weibo which favors sharing and reading.  Every year, Weibo organizes an event to reward the best travel influencers.

Xiaohongshu: China Kols Kingdom of Honest Review

Xiaohongshu, also known as Little Red Book, was born as a review UGC app. This means that each user publishes and shares their shopping places, products, brands purchased, or discovered in a specific geographical area.

Although the platform has evolved, it still offers a lot of importance to travel content and foreign brands. So it is highly recommended to identify the influencers of this platform and establish a link with them to increase their brand awareness among Chinese tourists.

Online reputation on video sharing and live streaming platforms

In China the choice of destination and places to visit depends a lot on social media. Therefore video sharing and live streaming on Chinese platforms like Douyin and Youku are very important to create brand awareness.

Douyin: Easy Way to Share Travelling Experience

Douyin 抖 音, the Chinese counterpart of Tik Tok, is a short video app that has made a lot of talk in China. Used by users to scroll through fun mini-videos.  It has often proved to be strategic for international brands in China. Its linear and direct communication, in fact, captures users and holds them in front of the screen longer than other platforms.

Youku Tudou: Share Dreamy Professionnal Destination Video

Youku Tudou is one of China’s leading online video and streaming platforms. Initially, Youku and Tudou were two distinct platforms, but in 2012 they merged together in Youku Tudou. Ultimately becoming a single platform capable of guaranteeing quality videos and generating high advertising profits. In 2015 it was acquired by Alibaba and also became the first Internet video brand in China.

According to statistics, Youku users have a medium to high spending power. The main age group is ranging from 19 to 40 years with a high level of education. Users access Youku mainly from mobile and also use the platform to shop online.

On these platforms, you can publish travel guides, interact with consumers, and promote your brand.

Promotions during Chinese holidays

Promotions during these periods are very important. Chinese holiday is when Chinese travel. Offering a promotion at these times of the years is a great way to attract tourists.

Most important Chinese holidays are :

  1. The national day in October
  2. The Chinese new year in February
  3. Summer holidays in July and August
  4. The labor day in May
  5. The mid-autumn festival


Invest in staff who speak and write Chinese

Invest in staff in order to have conversations without any misunderstanding, given the different Chinese culture and language, is important to attract Chinese tourists.

Given the importance for Chinese tourists, what a company should focus on, to better promote its brand and attract these tourists, are all these factors.

Do you want to know more about How to attract Chinese tourists during post-COVID-19? Contact GMA a digital marketing agency, specialized in the Chinese digital market.

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