Everything starts with a TV series
But where does this Chinese craze for Provence come from?
Everyone agrees that its origin is found in the soap opera “一帘幽梦” (yi lián yōu meng), in a translated version of “Dreams Link”, the TV show was on-screen from 2007 to 2008. Through cliché characters, the series retraces the objectives of the current Chinese society: wealth, beauty, youth, marriage, travel, and social success. While China is still extricating itself from the tradition of arranged marriages, the series brought to the female youth the hope of meeting Prince Charming.
What’s the link with the Provence?
Most of the episodes of this series take place in France, with a particular focus on the landscapes of Provence. As part of the final wedding, the landscapes of Provence delight the eyes of the spectators. The lavender and sunflower fields, the French waltz, and the French castles follow one another on the screen, anchoring in the memory of the Chinese the image of a France more romantic than ever. The lavender fields have become a symbol of this authentic and dreamed France.
An argument that must play in the balance: is the pollution of major Chinese cities and the contrast offered by the pure sky of Provence, with its clean rural setting.
The PACA region in the figures
The year 2017 breaks all records for the Côte d’Azur, with no less than 5.8 million foreign tourists according to its regional committee of tourism. Even if it is above all a tourism of proximity with the other European countries, the Chinese do not decay of the destination.
France restricts visa approvals against Chinese people enormously: only 700,000 tourists from China can come to visit France each year, while 62% according to a recent poll to elect France as a dream destination (Source: TNS HK).
Coronavirus pandemic and its impact on Chinese tourists in France
In 2019 Chinese tourists accounted for 150 million for overseas travel, while Chinese tourists spent USD130 bilion overseas for the year 2018, which represents an increase of 13 % from 2017.
However, since the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak in Wuhan (2019), the lack of Chinese tourists groups has left french workers from the hospitality industry such as hoteliers, restaurateurs, tour operators, and travel/tourism retailers have been left without customers to cater to. Chinese tourists are the biggest spender when on vacation and due to the pandemic they have been forced to stay at home.
In order to restrain the Covid cases, at least 14 countries worldwide have limited or even prohibited flights from mainland China. Such restrictions are unprecedented restriction in the travel industry, as a result, economists have warned about the potentially severe impact it could have on Tourism and Hospitality worldwide.
How do tourism stakeholders adapt to the Chinese?
In Provence, everyone went purple. The Tourist Office of Gréoux-les-Bains has launched its program ‘Heart of Lavender’, gathering all the regional initiatives for amateur tourists lavender, to preserve this tourist manna from China.
The Terraroma store receives every day its quota of Chinese customers, until adapting its products for them. Faced with success, all Provencal tourism players are hiring Chinese trainees to develop their facilities for this new audience.
The innovations are not lacking, because there had to do to adapt to a clientele as distinct from European tourists: translation of plans in Mandarin, creation of a partnership with Union Pay – which, without the implementation of WeChat pay and Alipay in Europe replaces the mobile payment methods and facilitates the transactions of Chinese tourists – not to mention the indications in Chinese: translation of restaurant menus and road signs leading to the main tourist spots…
What do Chinese tourists enjoy in Provence?
Efforts seem to pay, according to the very positive feedback from Chinese tourists on the main forums and social networks dedicated to travel tips. The literal translation of Provence into Chinese, 普罗旺斯 pǔ luó wàng sī, includes the character wàng which means prosperity. A transcription that echoes this showcase of social success that tourists come to glean.
The Chinese tourists seek above all the romanticism of the destination, and its symbolism – the cultural heritage of France and its global influence give a lot of face to the traveler. Above all, they will be delighted to take pictures of the famous tourist spots to attest to their trip.
Chinese weddings in Provence
Is France, and especially Provence, still the ideal wedding destination for Chinese couples?
The image of France has been severely damaged in recent years, in this case by the scandal of Chinese weddings in Tours. The weddings proposed by the mayor of Tours were part of a tourist package, proposed between 2008 and 2011 and attracting hundreds of couples. They were symbolic and of no legal value; the activity was tried for fraud and embezzlement of public funds. The attacks in France did not bring down that tourism coming from China; its image as a safe country is just starting to reform, even if its tourist activity has not yet restarted as before 2015.
Nevertheless, Provence does well in the game. In terms of the destination for honeymoon or wedding photos, its setting is ideal. Supported by their family, Chinese couples must perform expensive marriages to spread the prosperity of their two families to society and win the face, the album of wedding photos is an achievement in itself. It is common to invest crazy sums in his marriage. The cost of marriage establishes almost her rank in society.
What to do in Provence?
For the irreducible townspeople, the Old Town of Nice with its Flower Market and Promenade des Anglais. Admire the villas of Cassis or stroll on the port of the city, the Sainte-Victoire of Aix-en-Provence, when it is not the season to discover the so-famous festival of Avignon.
For nature lovers, the Gorges du Verdon or the National Park of Calanques are essential. Scuba diving, surfing, rafting, and the opportunities for water sports are not lacking: an excellent destination for Chinese athletes who often go abroad to learn a new discipline, infrastructure – especially in sports extremes – sorely lacking in China. Rather land than the sea?
Never mind, the Mercantour National Park is perfect for hiking.
Need to get high? The village of Saint-Paul de Vence or the eagle-nest castle of Les Baux-de-Provence is worth a visit. History dreams with a big H? Provence has a cultural heritage of extraordinary richness, its archaeological sites Vaison-la-Romaine attests.
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Gentlemen Marketing Agency is an agency specializing in digital marketing. We keep you on the last trend of Chinese tourists, with our long expertise in the Chinese market.