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European winter destinations look to Chinese outbound tourists post-pandemic

03/05/2021| 2:03:08 PM|

The light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel is a Chinese lantern.

Tourist destinations in Europe are confident that the strong growth of China's winter sports industry will benefit their economies.

They believe that the nation's rising interest in such sports, fueled by staging the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, is especially significant for the recovery of international winter tourism.

Ice and snow sports in China are expected to attract 230 million visits by participants in the 2020-21 winter season, with revenue projected to top 390 billion yuan ($60.27 billion), according to the China Tourism Academy.

The country's rapid development of winter sports has also led to a growing number of Chinese visiting overseas destinations during the winter, with many European resorts benefiting from this in recent years.

According to Switzerland Tourism, Chinese tourists spent 200,974 overnight stays at mountain destinations in the winter of 2018-19, a rise of nearly 539 percent compared with the same period a decade earlier.

A similar trend has been witnessed in the neighboring Alpine nation of Austria. In the winter of 2009-10, the country saw just 55,000 Chinese arrivals, but the number rose to 345,000 two years ago.

Finland is another top European winter destination favored by Chinese over the years, particularly the northern city of Rovaniemi, capital of Lapland and hometown of Santa Claus.

Due to the pandemic, tourist destinations, including ski resorts, have seen a dramatic slump in business since the start of last year, with a lack of Chinese visitors due to travel restrictions. However, tourism experts are confident that these travelers will play a major role in helping the industry recover in many areas worldwide.

Wolfgang Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, who sees Chinese tourists spurring an international travel revival, said, "The light at the end of the tunnel is a Chinese lantern."

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TAGS: winter destinations | Europe | outbound tourism | winter sports
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