The changing face of the international tourist

Understanding and catering to the Asian international tourist market

• Traditionally, the ‘face’ of the international tourist • •
was predominantly a ‘western’, white, AngloSaxon Asians are becoming an increasingly common feature of the ‘face’ of the international tourist It is important for the global tourism industry to recognise that the tourist desires and service expectations of Asian tourists are not necessarily the same as those of Western tourists

Place matters

The dangers of not understand the market

• Even in an era of unprecedented globalisation • • •
culture and society is still place specific Society and culture have a significant influence on individuals desires and expectations Consequently, holiday desires and expectations about the nature and quality of hospitality and tourism services will differ across cultures This means how you cater to Asian tourists should differ from how you cater to Western tourists

• Fail to understand and cater to tourists and you •
are likely to cause visitor dissatisfaction which will result in a lack of positive word of mouth advertising and re-visitation In the worst cases it will lead to negative word-ofmouth marketing

Cultural differences betweenTourists Western Tourists Asian Australian
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Orientation toward individual Focus on being independent Egalitarianism Importance of accomplishment Materialistic and hedonistic values first Focus on being self-reliant Focus on privacy Focus on flexibility Informal dress Seek agreement Focus on getting a quick and best deal Focus on informal behaviour No tradition of gift-giving Emotions are displayed Explicitness Risk-taking Focus on standing out

hosts • Orientation and Chinese touriststoward group
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Focus on being together Hierarchy Importance of age and position Importance of group activities and obedience Non-materialistic values first Focus on being dependent Privacy does not exist Focus on punctuality Formal dress Seek relationships Focus on social harmony Focus on formal etiquette Tradition of gift-giving Emotions are suppressed Implicitness Risk-avoiding Focus on obligation

Food – in restaurants and hotels

Western breakfast Indian breakfast

Chinese breakfast



Group travel


• Asian tourists, predominantly on guided tours, •
have limited contact with local people outside the service encounter setting The result is a lack of cross-cultural contact and the lack of development of cross-cultural understandings

• Western notions of the ‘family’ revolve around the
nuclear family of 2 children and 2 parents

• Asian notions of the ‘family’ often incorporate a
wider group (grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc)



• “Smoking is entrenched in Chinese society as the •
domain of men. They will find it difficult to accept smoking bans in public spaces” (ChinaContact, 2008) Yet, no smoking signs and laws are common place in Western tourism destinations

• •

“As Chinese avoid head on confrontation at any cost, you may be excused for thinking after a visit that everything went smoothly and to their satisfaction. In fact, the reason they do not complain is because they fear it will lead to an embarrassing confrontation. The concept of ‘face’ is extremely important” (ChinaContact, 2008) “Never assume you have received an honest answer. The cliché about yes meaning maybe and maybe meaning no is very much a fact in China” (ChinaContact, 2008) This makes cross-cultural communication and assessment of visitor satisfaction difficult


• A common barrier to effective understanding and • •
catering in the tourism environment is the lack of a common language between hosts and guests. It is especially problematic in the context of Asian tourists visiting western countries where foreign language education has traditionally focused on French, English, and to a lesser extent Spanish The lack of commonality between Asian and western languages is also problematic




Service style

• “Often, a photograph taken outside an attraction is
as good as a visit inside. "They [Chinese tourists] have to show pictures back home to prove they were there," Ms Polain said [a tour guide catering to Chinese visitors in the UK]” (Jinman & Pai, 2005)

• Service style, like visitor expectations are
culturally specific

• Even how to greet customers is culturally specific • Bowing from the shoulders is a well-known way of
meeting and greeting in China

Some Questions

Meeting ground

• Is the customer always right? • Should the service provider meet the expectations
of the customer?

• • • • • •

• How easy is this in the multi-cultural tourism •
destination? Or, as guests should tourists always conform to host cultural norms and standards?

The tourism experience is meant to offer the potential of a meaningful cultural meeting ground. Understanding, however, does not happen automatically. Rather, it needs to be facilitated and worked at. This means educating both tourists and hosts about other cultures to avoid misunderstandings and encourage cross-communication Without this visitors may find it easier to exist within a tourist ‘bubble’ while on vacation This will only reinforce problems, raise barriers to tourist satisfaction, and increase host dissatisfaction with tourists

15 Guidelines for Chinese Tourists Abroad Creating culturally informed (Shanghai Daily)

Suggested readings

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Do not spit in public Do not letter in public places Line up, don-t jump the queues Do not take pictures when a sign says ‘no pictures’ Do not talk in loud voices Do not polish your shoes with bed linen or the hotel towel Do not smoke in non-smoking areas Wear proper clothes Do not strip down to the waist (for men) when it’s hot Do not wear pyjamas in supermarkets or on the street Do not remove shoes and socks in airport terminals Men, observe the ‘ladies first’ rule Flush after using the toilet Do not block other pedestrians by walking side by side Do not force foreigners to pose for pictures

international tourists

• Ryan, C. & Mo, X. 2001, ‘Chinese visitors to New •
Zealand-Demographics and perceptions’, in Journal of Vacation Marketing, 8, 1, pp. 13-27. China Contact, 2008. The China Outbound Travel Handbook. http://www.ccontact.com/information/handbook.ht ml


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