Research - 16.01.2018 - 00:00 

Switzerland: a good reason for Chinese people to travel to Europe

Switzerland contributes a great deal to the attractiveness of Europe as a destination for Chinese people. But the number of easily accessible destinations – e.g. due to the abolition of visas, visa facilitation and better air links – is rapidly increasing for Chinese tourists worldwide. In the competition for their holiday budgets, Europe and Switzerland therefore have a difficult time.
Two young Asian girl using smartphone check flight or web check-in, sit at airport waiting seat together. Air travel lifestyle, exciting summer vacation trip or mobile phone gadget application concept

16 January 2018. This shows a first trend-analysis of current data on the travel behavior of the Chinese population, collected in a domicile survey by the Research Center for Tourism and Transport at the University of St.Gallen in cooperation with Survey Yes (Suzhou Zhongyan Network Technology Ltd.).

Switzerland is the second most important reason to come to Europe

With a market share of just over 16%, with a total of slightly more than 51 million international trips (outside Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Europe is an important destination for Chinese people. As first results of a pilot study on the travel behavior of the Chinese population show, Switzerland is the second most important reason to come to Europe after France – and ahead of Germany and the UK.

On our continent the cultural, historical and natural richness as well as variety and hospitality are appreciated. Many Chinese are also pleased that a rich tour operator offer can simplify travel to Europe when needed – perhaps against a background of negative perennial favorites such as the individual Schengen visa, the difficulty of communicating in one's own language, as well as the rather tense price-performance ratio for tourist core services.

In the decision-making process, Europe "loses" most of the time

However, the generally rosy picture for Europe and Switzerland is clouded by the following background: In a typical Chinese travel decision-making process, not just one, but at least two potential continental travel destinations are evaluated in 60% of the cases (hence there is a real "choice set" from at least two different continents). "And in most cases", says study leader Christian Laesser of the University of St. Gallen, "Europe loses relatively clear."

In a choice set, for example, together with North America (3.4% of all sets), Europe is subject to a ratio of 1:2, and in a set together with Oceania (4.3% of all sets) even to 1:3. Only in the choice set together with Asia (excluding the People's Republic of China and neighboring countries, 3.3% of all sets) there is at least a draw 1:1. Europe thus loses most of its power in the decision-making process; only in the case of only European destinations in a choice set (3.3% of all sets) does Europe "win" as a continent – logical if no intercontinental competition is evaluated.

Based on an initial data analysis, Professor Christian Laesser suspects that the still challenging Schengen visa process (compared to, for example, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) continues to be responsible for this result. In addition, the proportion of Chinese travelers connecting with friends and relatives is the lowest in Europe. This lack of Chinese personal relationships in Europe further reduces the travel potential (about minus 10%). What's more, Schengen still differentiates visas from tourists and visitors – something that has long since been abolished in competing regions of the world, making it easier to link holiday trips with visits.

Photos: Fotolia/beer5020

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