Monday, 8 May 2017

GERMANY: Martin Luther Celebrations Enhanced For Tourists

The German National Tourist Board hopes to excite Chinese tourists about a major date in history this year — the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation initiated by Martin Luther.

Germany will hold various festivities and special exhibitions that are related to Luther and the reformation. For example, the German Historical Museum in Berlin hosts the exhibit The Luther Effect: 500 Years of the Reformation from May 4 to Nov 5.

Visitors can choose from eight Luther Trails that link 42 places where the great reformer lived and worked, such as Leipzig and Dresden. It's convenient to take public transportation to follow the trails.

Li Zhaohui, head of the tourist board's Beijing office, says tourists can enjoy the country's cultural heritage, splendid natural views, delicious food, and wine and beers. Road trips and shopping are also great experiences for visitors.

Overnight stays of overseas tourists in Germany totaled more than 75.2 million from January to November in 2016, up by 1.4 percent for the same period in 2015, according to travel-industry data. That figure includes more than 2.58 million Chinese tourists, up 1.6 percent compared with 2015.

In 2016, the German embassy in China issued about 420,000 Schengen visas, up by 7 percent compared with 2015.

Last year, Germany opened 10 application visa centers in China, boosting the total number of visa centers to 15. The visa centers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are also open on Saturdays for the convenience of applicants.

Meanwhile, South African Tourism, which held events in Beijing on Feb 27 and in Shanghai on March 1, will hold its next event in Hong Kong on March 3.

This year it is focusing on the excitement, surprise, joy and awe awaiting Chinese visitors to South Africa.

"We are proud to invite visitors to encounter the jaw-dropping 'Wow!' moments, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and unforgettable adventures found nowhere else in the world," says Bradley Brouwer, the president of the Asia Pacific for South African Tourism.

"South Africa casts a spell because it is not manufactured and mundane but authentically raw and unfiltered, which is exactly what today's travelers seek," he says.

A total of 117,000 Chinese visitors from China visited South Africa last year, representing a 38 percent year-on-year increase.

South Africa offers Chinese visitors compelling experiences combining pristine nature, wildlife, a city lifestyle, affordable luxury and amazing adventures from mountain hiking to shark cage-diving.

To encourage a seamless travel experience for Chinese citizens, South African Tourism has established visa facilitation centers in nine Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Chinese and Bulgarian officials in the Bulgarian capital on April 28 voiced hopes to boost tourism cooperation, promising to make full use of the countries' unique resources.

At the opening of the conference of the "EU-China Tourism Year 2018: New Investment Opportunities for the Tourism Sector in Bulgaria", China's ambassador to Bulgaria Zhang Haizhou said: "Today's seminar reflects the strong desire of the Bulgarian side to tap its potential, improve its services and expand its market in tourism so as to attract more Chinese tourists."

He says Bulgaria "has rich, unique tourism resources, and the Bulgarian government attaches great importance to the development of the tourism industry".

China also has rich tourism resources, including cultural and natural world heritage, and beautiful scenery, the ambassador says.

Traveling to China will bring huge profits to Bulgarian tourism enterprises, he says.

"The Chinese side sincerely welcomes more Bulgarian friends to China."

Bulgarian Minister of Tourism Nikolina Angelkova says: "I believe that Bulgaria has a huge potential to receive Chinese tourists."

Creating joint tourism products by European countries is one way to attract more Chinese tourists, Angelkova says.

Bulgaria will improve visa policies and examine possibilities for direct flights to and from China, she says.

"The event today signals that Bulgaria is looking at the Chinese market, which is distant but promising," says Teodora Marinska, head of finance and public policies at the European Travel Commission.

In July 2016, the European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared 2018 the EU-China Tourism Year to increase tourism between China and the EU, encourage European enterprises to enter China's booming tourism market and allow more Chinese investment in Europe.

Over 5million Chinese visited Europe last year. But only 10,000 visited Bulgaria, the Chinese ambassador says.

He believes insufficient publicity, difficulties in visa applications and inconvenient transportation between China and Bulgaria were factors behind the slow tourism growth.