Chinese tourism in Germany
Where in Germany do Chinese travel?
China is the largest source market worldwide – there were 149.72 million outbound trips from Chinese tourists in 2018, with a Y-o-Y increase of 14.7%. Asian countries are the first choice for most Chinese when they travel abroad. Europe has become the second favorite destination for Chinese, over 16 million Chinese citizens visiting Europe in 2018.
Chinese tourism in Germany is booming. Germany maintains the well-deserved reputation as a world-class tourism destination among Chinese tourists. According to Ctrip Travel, in 2018, Germany ranked No.4 of the top 5 popular European tourist destinations by Chinese outbound travelers in Germany was the second most popular European destination in the first half of the year. The majority of Chinese tourists choose an itinerary combining German destinations with other nearby European destinations, such as Austria, Switzerland, France, and Italy.
China has also been a significant market source for Germany. In 2018, Germany welcomed 2.85 million Chinese tourists. Among them, more than 30 percent chose Bavaria as their destination of choice, followed by Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, and Berlin. As one of the top MICE destinations in Europe, Germany gains Chinese travelers’ attention with various of exhibitions, including electronics, cars, books, esports, etc.
There is also great performance of Chinese tourism in Germany on social media. German tourism may also benefit from being listed second of top countries of “Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2019”, which was also distributed on Chinese social media. German has been listed as No. 1 of ”Nation Brand” Ranking of Anholt Ipsos Nation Brands Index (NBI) in 2 consecutive years, 2018 and 2017.
The German National Tourist Board actively promotes German tourism destinations on Chinese digital platforms
Chinese Tourism in Germany has been promoted by the Chinese government
‘Germany has a good image of ‘Dream tourist destinations’ in the hearts of Chinese tourists. In 2019, we will continue brand promotion and increase digital marketing efforts to increase the exposure rate of major online platforms in China with some innovative promotion methods’ Ms. Li Zhaohui, the chief representative of the Beijing Office of German National Tourist.
The Weibo official account of the German National Tourist Board has attracted nearly 1.5 million followers with an active posting frequency of 3-4 posts per day. It has been dedicated to sharing plenty of information relevant with Germany, covering topics ranging from food, views, local customs, tips for applying for a German visa, to attract Chinese travelers and promote Chinese tourism in Germany.
Posts about destinations’ introduction with pictures and posts for visa application are the two hottest post topics. This implies that the Chinese audiences care not only about exciting tourist attractions but also practical information needed to plan a trip.
The German National Tourist Board’s official Weibo account has a relatively lower engagement than the official accounts of other countries and regions, such as New Zealand and Italy’s National Tourist Boards who post more exciting information. For example, the Italian National Tourist Board creates interactive dialogue with its followers,” Tell us which kind of Italian food is your favorite in the heat of summer?”, and associate it with a lucky draw to enhance the follower’s interests in the account.
Baidu analysis of Chinese Tourism in Germany
To understand Chinese perceptions of Germany, Baidu, the #1 search engine in China, is a good tool. The volume of search (more than ¾ of the total search made on Chinese Internet) exhibits the market digital trends. Here is the Baidu analysis of Chinese tourism in Germany cities.
Dresden is a relatively niche city for Chinese tourists. Based on the Baidu analysis there is alimited search volume of the word 德累斯顿 ”Dresden” on Baidu. The recent search peak in the chart is related to the Bundesliga football match in Dresden happened between the late January and early February.
A complete Baidu Baike introduction of Dresden emphasizes its City size; City structure; Natural environment; Military and political situation. There are three relative keywords about it: Dresden University of Technology, Industry and University
“杜塞尔多夫” Düsseldorf is more known for its football team. Chinese netizens show more interest in the league and football match. The vast majority of the search peaks of “杜塞尔多夫” Düsseldorf are related to sporting events. The several soft peaks appeared in its five-years Baidu index records are relevant with German Bundesliga.
The news and search related to Chinese players participating “2017 World Table Tennis Championships” in Düsseldorf, boosted the highest search peak in the record. Düsseldorf is also sister cities of Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenyang in China, which also gains certain attention from Chinese Baidu users.
Frankfurt is almost the most famous and hot German city according to the Baidu search volume and Baidu index result. According to the top search results, Frankfurt is renowned by various aspects, such as its central location in Europe, financial center, education, football, architecture, etc. The highly anticipated exhibitions in Frankfurt, such as Germany International Motor Show and Frankfurt Book Fair generated many search peaks in the past five years. However, the highest popularity of searching was in the context of “DOTA2 Frankfurt Autumn Championships” in 2015. Which is not surprising considering the popularity of esports in China.
As the central European transport hub, Frankfurt is highly related to keywords as “Frankfurt Airport and Frankfurt Time”. Also, when it comes to Frankfurt, Frankfurt University is another keyword with a high correlation.
Hamburg (汉堡) gains a high search volume on Baidu platform. However, due to the fact that the Chinese translations of “Hamburg” and “Hamburger” are the same, so the search result is relatively skewed. We will only focus on the content related to “Hamburg” city. Most of the top search results related to Hamburg, are relevant to travel in Hamburg, indicating Chinese Baidu users showing certain interest in visiting Hamburg. Moreover, Hamburg portal is also highly searched.
To distinguish the search results of “Hamburg” from “Hamburger”, we use “德国汉堡” (German Hamburg）as the search word. The search trend is very flat, expect for one peak happened in 2017, in connection with G20 Summit in Hamburg.
Hanover is also lesser known to Chinese, compared with big German cities like Frankfurt and Munich. Most of the search results are organic and related to history, travel and industry.
Cathedral has the correlation when it comes to the Baidu searches of Cologne. Moreover, the transportation, industry, history are highly ranked as well in the search results. News of various exhibition in Cologne usually generates high presence on Baidu search engine, such as the latest video game exhibition leading to a search peak. 3 out of Top 4 historical search peaks shown as Peak D, F, and H in the Chart, were highly associated with Cologne International Game Show. As for the highest point A, it was caused by the vicious incident of “90 women were sexually assaulted in New year’s eve in Cologne.”
When people search Cologne on Baidu, there are quite a lot related keywords and Top 3 are: Cologne Cathedral, Cathedral and Cologne, Germany.
As a relatively unknown city among Chinese, the search results of Leipzig is also limited. It is recognized as a tourist destination by some niche travelers. The history and music from the Chinese travelers are all around the recommendation of Leipzig. The RB football league partly contributes to the awareness of Leipzig in China.
Munich takes second place of the search results of the German cities we focused on. The football league, tourism-related content and industrial engineering accounts for the main search volume. Electronica Munich is another attractive exhibition among the Chinese travelers, and the frequency of searching grew with the show annually. In comparison, Chinese is familiar with this reputable city, and it is frequently researched and covered by many classic European itinerary.
A Russian movie Движение вверх (Three Seconds) about a famous basketball match in Munich (2005) is scored with a high rank on Douban (A website is known for movie review in China), generating a result of almost all the associate keywords of Munich is about movie, download, movie platform, etc.
Not many Chinese are aware of Nuremberg. According to the Baidu index, the city stays at a low level of perception for years, with an average small search volume and a gentle search trend. Currently, Nuremberg is best-known for the Nuremberg Trials and Nuremberg University. Some sports match related to Nuremberg also caught Chinese netizen’s attention. When people search Nuremberg on Baidu, there are only two relative keywords about it: Nuremberg University and University.
Another large German city, Stuttgart, is also known for its football and industrial automation for Chinese. Self-driving travel and self-guided tour appear more in the search results. Many universities also come up as frequent searches.
When people search Stuttgart on Baidu, there are only two relative keywords about it: Stuttgart University and University. Chinese people have little knowledge about Stuttgart.
How can a destination get put on a Chinese tourist’s map?
The Chinese outbound tourism market is increasingly sophisticated and headed towards more niche destinations, and planning more customized travel. This creates the opportunity for lesser-known cities to welcome Chinese tourists. The modern Chinese traveler will do plenty of research online through social media platforms like RED and Weibo, hence a digital marketing plan is crucial to be recognized by Chinese travelers.
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