South American countries look forward to attracting more tourists from China, as more efforts are being made to ensure smooth travel experiences, participants at a global tourism platform heard.
Argentina and Brazil are working on the mutual acceptance of a Chinese tourist visa to allow travelers to visit different countries, said Gustavo Santos, minister of tourism of Argentina, noting the discussion will also be extended to other countries in South America.
The measure will be a fundamental topic among regional ministers at a summit in late November, and Santos hopes a definitive plan will be announced soon.
Santos was speaking at the Global Tourism Economy Forum, which took place in Macao from Oct 13 to 15. Argentina and Brazil served as partner countries this year.
Hosted by Macao’s Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture in cooperation with the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the forum promotes sustainable development of the global tourism industry with a focus on China.
Argentina signed an agreement on mutual visa-exemption with Macao on Oct 14, which allows travelers from the city to enter Argentina for up to 30 days without the need for a visa. The measure will be effective from mid-November.
Chinese mainland citizens traveling with a United States visa or an EU Schengen visa can also easily get electronic travel authorization to visit Argentina for up to 90 days.
Santos said the one-stop travel experience could be further enhanced by allowing Chinese tourists to tour other countries during their long-haul journey. For example, as many Chinese tourists transfer in Portugal on their way to South America, they should have the option to visit the country for a few days to make full use of their time.
Noting the distance between Asia and South America, Brazilian Tourism Minister Marcelo Alvaro Antonio said a smoother visa policy will be conducive for the regional tourism industry. He added that Brazil is also working to issue electronic visas for Chinese tourists, in order to facilitate exchange between the two countries.
“China can be our biggest partner in tourism,” said the minister who believes deeper economic cooperation between China and Brazil can help the Latin American country develop its tourism industry.
He said Chinese investment is welcome in tourism-related projects in areas like transport infrastructure, theme parks, resorts and natural parks.
Speaking during a workshop session on China’s outbound tourism, Gilson Machado Neto, president of the Brazilian Tourism Board (Embratur), said the number of Chinese tourists to Brazil – which was slightly over 60,000 in 2018 – still has huge potential to grow, considering the number of outbound trips made by Chinese tourists and the rich tourism resources Brazil has to offer.
China has had the world’s most outbound tourists in annual terms since 2013, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. China also generates almost one-fifth of the world’s international tourism receipts, said a report jointly published by the World Tourism Organization and the Global Tourism Economy Research Centre.
South American countries have more than natural resources or metropolitan skylines to offer Chinese tourists, as the region is well-known for its sports industry, said Santos, the Argentinian minister.
Noting Chinese aspirations to develop soccer, Santos said Argentina and Brazil are home to some of the world’s most successful soccer teams, and they can jointly help develop the sector through collaboration and cooperation.
Seeing huge opportunities in sports tourism cooperation between South America and China, Andres Miguel Fassi, president of the Talleres Football Club in Argentina’s first division, told China Daily his club is working to further link tourism with soccer. Such efforts include the establishment of summer soccer camps for Chinese children in Argentina and Mexico.
Wang Xinjun, president and CEO of Ivy Alliance Tourism Consulting, said Chinese outbound tourists are familiar with Argentina and Brazil due to their soccer culture, a key reason that the two countries, as well as Chile and Peru, are among the most popular South American destinations for Chinese tourists.
Hoping to see more direct flights between China and South America, Wang said more opportunities can be generated from tourism cooperation between both sides, as promoted by economic cooperation and China’s emphasis on high-quality tourism.
HONG KONG NEWS