To help the industry to enter the Chinese market, Latvia has developed a specific strategy for attracting tourists from China to Latvia.
Challenge: entry into new markets. There have been various unsuccessful attempts for tourism companies to enter Chinese tourism market, but it was too expensive, there was no knowledge about the market, and no willingness to customize their products.
To help the industry to enter the Chinese market, Latvia has developed a strategy for attracting tourists from China to Latvia.
The strategy defines five main tasks:
1. Development (customization) of tourism offer for Chinese market;
2. Raising of the awareness of Latvia as tourism destination in China;
3. Simplification of visa procedures;
4. Development of Chinese Friendly quality system;
5. Development of transport infrastructure and direct flights.
Following the strategy, Latvia has introduced a Chinese Friendly hospitality standard for tourism service providers to help the entrepreneurs to adjust their tourism products to Chinese tourists’ needs.
Apart from that, Latvia has increased the speed of issuing visas in Latvian embassy in China and is currently working on being able to issue them o-line. Latvia has conducted an agreement with one of the largest on-line tourism sales platforms in China to sell tourism packages for Chinese travelers on-line. And, finally, Latvia has increased its visibility in Chinese market via various, exhibitions, FAM trips, media coverage etc.
Main stakeholders and beneficiaries of the practice are small and medium tourism enterprises and institutions, tourists and regional destinations
The strategy was implemented with no special resources allocated.
Evidence of success
The expected result is to open direct flights between China and Latvia.
The current results:
1. 25 tourism enterprises have received the Chinese Welcome certificate
2. The number of Chinese tourists has increased by 7% during the 1st half of 2018, while neighbouring countries are experiencing lesser growth (Lithuania +1%) or even decrease (Estonia – 3%)
3. In 2019 a direct (charter) flight from Riga to Hainan is opening. A few more are in the pipeline – direct flights to Shanghai or Beijing
The biggest challenge was (and still is) to create the perfect product for Chinese market. Willingness to customize the product and leave their comfort zone to risk on lower ROI for the first years – these are the main obstacles for tourism industry to modify their product for Chinese market.
Potential for learning or transfer
This good practice shows that sometimes the industry needs a little push in the right direction, to be able to change and understand their clients. The diversification of tourism products and services to provide more customized packages for a specific market in Latvia was achieved through the implementation of a specially designed concept/strategy, which not only gave guidelines for the entrepreneurs, but actually supported their learning process. The government was ready to invest in its entrepreneurs to help them to achieve their business goals.
The potential for learning is that products can be customized individually, but they can also be customized on a broader scale. By giving specific guidelines and providing educational courses, Latvia made sure that the industry understands the new client and is able to customize its products towards the new market’s needs. The government has given a boost, the rest is up to the industry now.
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