Wealthy Chinese tourists spend big on luxury shopping, high-end dining

By Phuong Anh   May 6, 2024 | 08:36 pm PT
Rich Chinese visitors to Vietnam mainly spend their money buying luxury brand products and staying at five-star resorts, enjoying lavish dining experiences with private chefs, insiders said.

Pham Ha, CEO of luxury cruise operator Lux Group, said wealthy Chinese tourists prefer destinations with lots of entertainment activities and delicious food.

In addition, they also enjoy buying luxury brands' products in Vietnam, and staying at internationally branded five-star hotels.

People walk in front of Louis Vuitton shopwindow in Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi, March 2016. Photo by Tomas Slavicek

People walk in front of Louis Vuitton shopwindow in Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi, March 2016. Photo by Tomas Slavicek

Martin Koerner, Group Commercial Director of The Anam, a chain of luxury resort hotels in Vietnam, said The Anam Cam Ranh Resort near Nha Trang beach city mainly receives Chinese, South Korean, Australian and European tourists.

The resort has many high-end services preferred by Chinese guests, such as massage therapy packages, and candlelight dinning service on a beach-facing lawn with private waiters and chefs, Koerner said.

For such dining services, there are only one table per night to ensure privacy demands.

Koerner said Chinese guests who stay at the hotel dole out "very high spending" on items such as rooms, restaurants, and spas. The prefer luxury rooms such as villas with separate swimming pools and afternoon tea parties.

Wealthy Chinese tourists contribute significantly to the resort's sales and business profits, he said.

In the first quarter of this year, the resort saw the number of Chinese guests increase 40 times compared to the same period last year, he added.

According to a survey by Hotels.com, Chinese travelers spend an average of $930 abroad, 58% of it on shopping, especially on high-end products.

In 2019, total revenue from Chinese visitors in Vietnam reached $5.9 billion, accounting for 32% of total revenue from international visitors.

According to a report from the General Statistics Office, Chinese tourists spent $885 per trip to Vietnam in 2019, higher than the amount of spending from Thailand ($847), South Korea ($838), and Cambodia ($735).

According to a survey by Lux Group, rich Chinese tourists currently spend an average of about $1,200 per trip, three to four times higher than other wealthy tourist markets.

However, Chinese tourists have not yet spent much money on Vietnamese tourism sights, as the country still lacks attractive products in this category.

"All countries want to attract wealthy Chinese tourists," said Nguyen Tien Dat, vice chairman of Hanoi Tourism Club.

Rich Chinese shop a lot, especially on luxury brands.

"Brand-name stores in Europe are thriving thanks to wealthy Chinese," Dat said.

In Vietnam, Chinese customers don't focus wholly on buying branded goods because "they still prefer to buy in Europe and Japan due to the high prestige of [those countries]," he added.

Therefore, Vietnam needs to target other interests of Chinese customers such as entertainment activities, cuisine, unique souvenirs, travel experiences, and luxury services to make them open their wallets.

To do this, Vietnam should position itself as a luxury destination, Ha said.

Vietnam has always been considered a "cheap destination" for Chinese tourists due to dodgy tour packages called "zero-dollar tours." Before the pandemic, many Chinese tourists arrived in Vietnam through "zero dong tours" organized by Chinese travel companies, in which Chinese visitors stay at Chinese-run hotels, eat at Chinese restaurants, and shop at Chinese shopping outlets.

Insiders said many Chinese tourists do not communicate in English, so the tourism industry needs a team of tour guides and staff at restaurants, souvenir shops, and hotels who can speak Chinese well.

Chinese people appreciate respectful attitudes and that is why Thailand is always in the top favorite destinations of this market.

"We need to show Chinese tourists how interesting and worth visiting Vietnam is," Dat said, adding Vietnam should increase tourism promotion with Chinese travel companies and on social networks such as Weibo, Doyin by inviting celebrities to promote such activities.

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