Stronger yuan boosts tourism
Updated: 2015-04-13 08:41
By WANG ZHUOQIONG/WANG WEN(China Daily)
Chinese tourists inspect souvenirs at a gift shop in Vladivostok, Russia. [Photo/Agencies]
Some other travel agencies have also joined the price battle to offer low-price tour products this spring, an off-season for tourism.
Tongcheng Network Technology Share Co, in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, the fourth-largest online travel agency in China, launched an event with over 200 products in 20 Chinese cities on March 21, and all the 11-day tours departing in April to France, Switzerland and Italy have been fully booked.
"Actually, the euro's depreciation is like a big promotion for Chinese tourists visiting Europe," said Liu Qing, chief executive officer of Tongcheng's outbound tourism department.
The exchange rate of the euro against the yuan is currently about 27 percent lower than the previous year, which means huge discounts for Chinese travelers, Liu said.
Tours including shopping or a reasonable amount of free time are the most popular among all the European trips on offer, Liu added, especially individual travel, although the price is higher.
Tongcheng's data show that bookings in the first three months of 2015 already exceeded the total for last year. During the first quarter of 2015, the agency launched more than 10 European tour products, which are now close to being fully booked.
Jiang Yiyi from the China Tourism Academy said that in addition to Europe, travel to Japan has also been boosted to an all-time high this year due to the depreciation of the Japanese yen against the yuan.
Chinese tourists rushing to Japan to buy automatic toilet seats and rice cookers has become a heated topic on the Internet.
"As a tourism destination Japan offers diversified products with quality services," said Jiang.
Travelers cash in on exchange rate
The depreciation of the rouble has stimulated Chinese travelers' interest in visiting Russia, according to industry insiders.
According to search data for Russian hotels on the Chinese website of Hotels.com, an online booking and reservation platform for accommodation worldwide, the number of Chinese travelers browsing hotel information in Russia saw double-digit growth in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with the same period in 2013. The rising search volume continued in the first two months of 2015. Therefore, Russia can be considered as one of the best-value destinations, in contrast with other European countries, according to Jessica Chuang, regional marketing director of Hotels.com in China.
"This is good news for deal-seeking travelers," she said. "Chinese travelers can enjoy great deals when traveling to Russia, and luxury brands as well as electronic items have become much more affordable."
However, Li Mengran, a public relations specialist at Beijing UTour International, said the cost of its trips to Russia has not been greatly affected by the currency fluctuations because the transactions with local agencies are settled in US dollars. Therefore, shopping is the only incentive for Chinese tourists to go to Russia as a result of such currency changes.