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        Return of Chinese tourists helps vitalize Europe's tourism market, economy

        By CHENG SI | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-07 09:58
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        Tourists from around the world, including some from China, view the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, on Friday. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

        Deepening tourism cooperation between China and Europe will help vitalize the continent's economy, as tourism is one of its pillar industries.

        Figures from travel agencies show that tour products to Europe have become hot sellers since early 2023 after China loosened outbound travel restrictions following the pandemic.

        Traditionally popular European destinations such as France, Spain and Greece remain top choices for Chinese travelers, while "niche "destinations like Serbia and Montenegro have also become trendy.

        "Some European destinations including Athens, Berlin, Milan and Zurich have seen an upsurge in searches on our platform recently," said online travel agency Qunar.

        For example, from April 22 to 28, searches for tour products to Athens nearly tripled, while searches for Berlin-related products almost quadrupled compared with the previous week.

        Qi Chunguang, vice-president of Tuniu, said that destinations in Central and Eastern Europe have also lured more Chinese travelers because of lower costs and more friendly visa policies.

        "A continuous trip to Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary usually costs 25,000 yuan ($3,500) to 30,000 yuan per person during summer time, while a trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland costs nearly 40,000 yuan per person over the summer," he said. "Also, adding direct flights from China to destinations in Eastern Europe and more convenient visa application procedures make Central and Eastern Europe more attractive."

        Tourism industry insiders said that Europe delights in seeing more Chinese travelers, who will inject life into the continent's economy and help boost tourism-related employment.

        Data analysis company Statista — founded in Hamburg, Germany — said the total contribution of travel and tourism to Europe's GDP was around $2.1 trillion in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit, while that dropped to around $1.9 trillion in 2022.

        Travel and tourism account for a great share of some economies in Europe — for example, 24.8 percent of Croatia's GDP came from travel and tourism in 2019, according to Statista.

        Sandra Carvao, chief of tourism market intelligence and competitiveness at the World Tourism Organization, told People's Daily in a recent interview that China is one of the world's largest sources of travelers, so the recovery of China's tourism market is key to Europe's tourism industry development.

        Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission, told People's Daily that destinations in Europe have made great efforts to attract Chinese travelers, such as deepening cooperation with China's airline companies and organizing tourism exhibitions in China.

        He said China had been the second largest source of travelers to Europe before the pandemic, and he hopes to see a growing number of Chinese travelers come to the continent this year.

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