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South America is the continent situated farthest away from China, and as of 2019, there are no direct flights between the two. Even so, this “last continent” is increasingly on the radars of experienced and affluent Chinese tourists.
Interviews with Chinese Travelers:
Which South American countries have you traveled to?
Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay
What was the most interesting thing you saw in South America?
The Colombian coffee growing region. We saw how coffee beans are collected, dried, ground and brewed. I think it’s really interesting because I love coffee. And we went to Cartagena, the coastal city in Colombia. We did square dancing with the locals.
Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. It is known as the “End of the World”. There is a train to the “End of the World”.
There are a lot of cultural relics, such as Machu Picchu, this kind of rare beautiful landscape. The story behind it is attractive. Peru is a country with rich culture.
What did you like the most about visiting South America?
The biggest difference between Colombia and other countries is Colombians are really welcoming. They probably were born to be welcoming. It makes you very comfortable.
The climate and temperature make the country a good place to live.
The blend, differences and similarities of two cultures. Chinese has a long history with Peru. I was surprised by this.
Compared to other places you have been, what’s unique about South America?
Places such as the Casa Rosada and Los Glaciares National Park in southern Argentina. These landscapes are quite unique.
There are a lot of spectacles that you won’t see anywhere else, such as Vinicunca Mountain and Valle Sagrado Hotel. They are very unique.
Their welcoming attitude, food culture and dance are very attractive.
Where else would you like to go in South America?
My next destination is Peru.
Argentina and Brazil, because of football.
Machu Picchu in Peru, Corcovado in Rio, and of course, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
Compared to 2015 arrivals, Argentina saw an increase of 74% in Chinese travelers in 2017, and Chile doubled its Chinese arrivals. Peru’s Chinese arrivals grew by 112% from 2015 to 2018, and Panama tripled its number of Chinese travelers in the same period. Meanwhile, 15% more Chinese travelers visited Brazil, and 50% more were forecasted to visit Cuba in 2018.
The Rio Olympics in 2016 was one major draw for Chinese travelers, and novelty, streamlined visa policies, and improved diplomatic relations play strong roles in attracting Chinese travelers to Latin America.
Ecuador has had a visa exemption policy for Chinese nationals in place since March, 2016. Chile, Cuba, Panama, and Peru waive visas for Chinese passport holders who hold US, Canadian, UK, Australian and/or Schengen visas. In June, 2017, Argentina launched a 10-year multiple entry visa for Chinese passport holders, and Brazil also started to offer Chinese nationals five-year multiple entry visas in October, 2017.
The high price and long flight times between South America and China favor travelers with ample financial resources and longer vacation time. Chinese tourists to South America are primarily high-end travelers aged between 40 and 65, who are rich in money, time, and travel experience.
However, younger Chinese are also becoming more interested in South America. The popular Chinese reality show “Sisters Over Flowers” filmed several of its episodes in Peru, while parts of the series “Divas Hit the Road” were shot in Brazil.
Safety seriously impacts South America’s image as a tourist destination, and Chinese travelers tend to be especially concerned about issues such as robbery and altitude sickness.
South America is also the jumping-off point for Chinese travel to Antarctica. In 2004, only 37 Chinese citizens visited Antarctica. This number surged to over 8,000 in the winter season 2017/2018, making China the second biggest source market after the US, with a 16% market share. Many of these travelers will incorporate travel in South America as part of an Antarctic trip.
Latin America and Antarctica are final frontier destinations for the most experienced, wealthy and intrepid Chinese travelers, and tourism organizations and businesses in this part of the world are starting to make the Chinese market a new priority.