More European destinations are launching campaigns to appeal to Chinese tourist demand for art and culture, with the Netherlands and Belgium being the latest to join the trend.
The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) and Belgian destination marketing organization (DMO) Visit Flanders have partnered to offer Chinese travelers an artistic Eurail vacation as a send-off to the EU-China Year of Tourism.
At a conference on November 22 at Beijing’s 798 Art Zone, the tourism boards presented a classic cultural railway tour through the Netherlands and Belgium. The Eurail route, which follows most of the train operator’s Benelux Pass route, begins in Rotterdam and ends in Brussels with stops in six cities renowned for art and culture, including Delft, The Hague, Ghent, and Antwerp, and the rail pass allows travelers some flexibility to travel at their own pace. The promoted route, tickets for which start at $121 (€107), allows for eight travel days on Eurail within a month and includes discounts at some attractions.
The tourism boards will also partner with Chinese online outbound travel service provider Qyer.com in December to invite influencers from the platform to join the Eurail trip, Chinese media outlet Sina reported. The three parties will then present the travelers’ experiences at an exhibition in Beijing in March 2019.
This isn’t Belgium’s first foray into itineraries customized to Chinese tourists. Earlier this year, Belgian online travel agency Hey! Belgium began offering customized tours for individuals and small groups.
Chinese tourism to Europe increased 35 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, according to statistics from Ctrip. Belgium saw a 13.1 percent year-on-year increase in Chinese tourists from May to August this year, and the Netherlands hopes to capitalize on Chinese tourist interest in the Eurail offer.
As tourism from China has grown for the European nation, Hainan Airlines opened twice weekly Shenzhen-Brussels direct flights on March 20, 2018, in addition to its routes between the Belgian capital and Beijing and Shanghai, giving the airline 10 flights per week between the countries. There are currently no direct flights between Rotterdam and cities in China, meaning travelers may arrive in Amsterdam first.
The Netherlands welcomed 364,000 Chinese tourists in 2017, according to the NBTC. The same year, Amsterdam recorded 245,000 Chinese overnight visitors, an increase of 28 percent from the previous year and double the figure in 2011. The Dutch national statistics office CBS reported, however, that Chinese visitor numbers to the capital fell 9 percent year-on-year to 64,000 in the first four months of 2018.
Amsterdam hopes to benefit from the Eurail itinerary with tourists arriving there prior to departing for Rotterdam. It may entice Chinese art enthusiasts as the city is home to the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum.