VIENNA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- The number of Chinese tourists in Vienna has almost tripled since 2010 and Vienna is one of the most popular European destinations for Chinese travelers, a Vienna tourism official has said.
"China will overtake Japan and become the second-largest non-European market behind the United States (for Vienna tourism)," Norbert Kettner, director of the Vienna Tourist Board, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
A total of 162,000 Chinese visited Vienna in 2015, a 16-percent surge from the year before, he said. "We have succeeded to position Vienna as a 'Must See Destination' in Europe (for Chinese tourists)."
The reasons for the boom are manifold. "The middle class in China is emerging and they have enough money for travels," Kettner said.
It is conspicuous that Chinese tourists are the biggest national group in terms of shopping, with an average of 1,000 euros (about 1,116 U.S. dollars) per purchase for Chinese tourists. Visitors from China's Hong Kong spend even 1,700 euros (about 1,897 dollars) per purchase.
"Shopping is very important for Chinese people," Kettner said. "There is a tendency to buy European brands in Europe. In China luxury goods are often limited. In addition, the Chinese have the culture of bringing souvenirs home," the director said.
To attract more attention from the Chinese, Vienna has invested quite a lot in marketing and advertising in China. "We do a lot of activities to be present in China, B2B as well as for the end consumer. We do very much online, because China is a highly digitalized market," Kettner said.
A hurdle for Chinese visitors to Vienna is the limited number of visa application centers in China. "This has been always a bottleneck," Kettner said.
So far, there are only three visa application centers throughout China, but this year will witness the opening of 12 additional visa application centers. "We are in a competition with other European countries," he said.
Another important factor to bolster tourism is direct flights. Now Vienna is approached only from Shanghai and Beijing. In September a new flight from Hong Kong will be launched.
The director is convinced that the economy in Asia, particularly in China, will continue to grow.
"We have the policy to go where the growth rates are," the tourism director said about his marketing strategy.
Kettner said that in the future, the world will see more Asian tourists. "I am confident that China will always remain a very important market for our tourism," he said.