Africa: the new hot destination for Chinese tourists

Even though they just represent a minority among tourists visiting Africa, every year there are more and more Chinese visiting the old continent. We’ll see how Africa turned out to be the new hot destination for Chinese tourists, and how can local economic actors attract these new tourists.

Chinese people on their way to Africa

Despite the strong economic and political relationships between China and African countries, Chinese people do not have a lot of knowledge about Africa but a rising passion for this continent is growing. People are getting more and more fans of beautiful landscapes, foreign cultures, and wild animals… and documentaries about Africa in China are having a constantly growing audience.

The Chinese tourist opportunity in sum up

  • Over 149 million travelers in 2018
  • Over $277 billion was spent during their holiday in 2018
  • Leader of the global outbound tourism market
  • Up to 30,000 visitors deliver to a destination by a single travel agency
  • Visitors spending in average around $1,300 per trip
  • 200 million Chinese tourists expected to travel in 2020

Tourism in Africa

  • 60 million tourists in 2017
  • 67 million tourists in 2018 (compared to 2017, it’s +10% tourism in North Africa and +6% in sub-Saharan countries)
  • The rise of ecotourism in the world, leading people’s interest toward National parc, beautiful landscapes, safari, etc.
  • A better image of the continent is referred to as THE place to discover: a continent full of wonders.
  • Morocco is the most popular country in Africa with 12.3 million tourists in 2018
  • Zimbabwe got over 2.4 million tourists while Kenya reached over 2 million tourists in 2018

Influence of Chinese tourists in Africa:

  • In 2016, 10% of Chinese people chose Africa as their favorite destination
  • To increase the number of tourists from China, Morocco, and Tunisia allowed Chinese netizens to travel without any visa to be required (And it worked… in 1 year, Morocco went from 700 Chinese tourists to 7000 the next year)

Top 6 hottest destinations of Chinese people in Africa:

  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • Morocco
  • South Africa
  • Mauritius
  • Tanzania

In 2017, it was 800,000 Chinese tourists visited Africa. It looks pretty less compared to the 60 million people coming into the continent. But we can’t help to notice that this figure is growing every year. There is now a new trend to be established saying that yearly, Africa sees a constant rise of Chinese tourists.

A new trend in development:

For long-time Chinese people were mostly choosing public tour operators to travel abroad. A system in which everything was included and controlled by a Chinese travel agency. Unfortunately, this system was not very profitable for local economies. However, this phenomenon is currently changing. From now, the number of Chinese traveling through this system plunge to 40%, while nowadays, 60% of Chinese travelers prefer to travel alone and experience local culture on their own. A new trend allows the development of the local economy.

As a travel agency, hotel, or other economic actor operating in the Tourism industry, how can you take advantage of this situation and attract new Chinese customers? How can you be sure that they’ll use your services instead of your competitors or even worst, a Chinese tour operator?

Understand here that wherever the country you come from, if you want to do business with Chinese people, the only real competitive advantage you’ll get is efficient digital branding.

For Chinese people, branding is everything. They could spend 10x the price for something branded rather than something not branded. And it’s particularly true about things which they don’t know much about… If you don’t want to have to play the discount game forever or be seen as a cheap company, you’ll have to develop your e-reputation and brand your products/services.


Here are some tips for you to perform your branding correctly in order to build the reputation you’ll need to drag Chinese clients straight to your business.

Do they know you?

In China and more generally with Chinese people, everything is about trust. You’ll have to develop this trust relationship if you want them to buy something from you. Consider that they don’t want to pay for something and realize later on that they gave money to a fake brand or fake company. (And this also works between Chinese companies… nothing to do with foreigners.)

Step 1: Develop your visibility and give them the chance to know you

How to do?

  • Give yourself a Chinese name.

If you want to reach Chinese tourists, it would be great for you to get a Chinese name. At least for the online world. First, they’ll understand it. Second, they’ll enjoy your effort in getting closer to them (remember their language is Chinese, not English).

Contact us we can give you a Name for free

  • Develop a Chinese Website with a Chinese domain.

To be visible to Chinese netizens, it’s a minimum. Before using your services they’ll probably check on your company. So, we advise you to develop a Chinese website following the Chinese design/features.

  • Consider Weibo.

It’s the Chinese Twitter. Certainly, the most popular social media in China. And it can help you reach a large audience also to engage with potential customers. Through this tool, you can also develop a KOL strategy and give your company a step closer to fame. Chinese people are very suggestible, so the use of influencers can promote your company and develop your network to new heights. A perfect way for you to build visibility and a good reputation.

Step 2: Don’t forget to show yourself on social media

You have to understand two main things here:

  • Chinese people are very connected.
  • They don’t have access to occidental platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

It may seem like a paradox. But to operate online, the Chinese have developed their own communication system. Therefore, for a company willing to do business with the Chinese you’ll have to develop yourself on Chinese social media. Your fame will be your best friend.

So, what social media would you need?

  • WeChat

Very similar to Facebook or WhatsApp, almost everybody uses it here. It’s a messenger app offering you the possibility to share content with your “friend” such as text/videos/pictures/music/etc. On WeChat, you can also use group chat. It gives Chinese people the possibility to organize group discussion, talk about their problems and how to solve it, also talk about new trends, where to go on holiday, which place to visit, which company to recommend, etc. Open a WeChat account, it’s worth it. It will help you to interact with your community and create engagement.

The best tools WeChat can offer you:

  1. Create a company brochure
  2. Spread marketing content
  3. Spread coupons/discounts to your followers
  4. Work on your community management
  • Douyin

The Video King in China. It’s basically a video-sharing app. Young and middle-aged people love it. It allows individuals or companies to create video content and spread it to a very large audience. Plus, it gives you the possibility to spread some ads and sell your product or services directly on the app. It can be a very efficient way to get new leads. Fun and intuitive, potential customers will love to interact with you through the app. It’s also a very good way to support your KOL strategy.


  • Baidu

It’s the Chinese version of Google. Chinese netizens are always looking for information on it. If they have a problem or are looking for something: Baidu. If they want to book a hotel but don’t know if it’s a good one or not: Baidu. You can implement plenty of actions to develop your e-reputation on the Chinese browser. (And you’d better do… cause your potential clients will definitely check on you before buying anything)

Here is a sample of all the things you can develop through Baidu to build your e-reputation:

  1. Baidu Zhidao & Zhihu: a good way to deliver information and get positive reviews
  2. Baidu Baike: the Chinese Wikipedia. Don’t underestimate it. It’s very important in China.
  3. PR: Peoples want to read articles about you. If they can’t find anything, it means you’re not very trustable. Your products/services are maybe not that great, and not that many people purchased your offer.
  4. Forums: If you’re the best, you’ll be present in forums discussion. If not, you’ll have to get people talking online about your hotel, tour, restaurant, and so on.
  5. Reviews/comments: When Chinese are happy (or not) about something, they post an online review/comment. And you’ll need plenty of good ones. They expect high-end services. They want to see how people enjoyed their stay and the use of your services/products.

Building good visibility and online reputation on Chinese social media is the best way for you to develop your business and attract customers.

Remember that they don’t have access to our main media or browsers. To attract them, you’ll have to play their game. Of course, it requires minimum investments in terms of both time and money. But if you do so, you’ll get the best ROI possible: clients coming to you without you to do anything

Take control of your strategy toward Chinese tourists/customers and get the amazing result you deserve. Online branding will pay off.

Chinese travel Agencies will NEVER collaborate with untrustful Partner

So you have better invest in your reputation if you want to go to the B2B market.
We have a list of 500 travel agents in China, we sell it for 300$, only if you have a good reputation.

African Businesses have a real trust problem in China

Do not spam them… be smart.

For more information or any question on how to attract Chinese tourists, please feel free to contact us.

  • We have a White Book (Free to download) 
  • You can also check our case studies
  • Can give you 30min of Free Consulting

We are GMA

  • Digital Marketing Expert in China
  • Deep knowledge of the Chinese travel market
  • We know your Chinese customer’s behavior
  • Free advice first, and cost-effective Marketing plan for SME

Our Case studies



  • I would like to partner with Chinese tour agencies. We are operates unforgettable Tanzania safaris

    • Dolores Admin

      Hey there,

      Please send us a request here
      Let’s schedule a phone call 😉

  • O would like to tap the Chinese market for my Safaris company here in Kenya.

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