Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Paris outdoes London to win luxury-seeking Chinese tourists

By Kim Willsher  /  The Observer, PARIS

The Do You Speak Tourist? report claims that Chinese visitors spend 40 percent of their holiday budget shopping, mostly for luxury goods.

Britons, who make up the biggest number of Parisian tourists, spend 7 percent, and Americans 25.7 percent.

It says the Chinese, whom Navarro describes as “the kings of shopping,” want “luxury shopping above all” and “have an idealized and romantic vision of Paris.”

“A simple smile and a bonjour in their own language will keep them more than satisfied,” it says.

France’s attempts to present a welcoming face to the new tourists from China have suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks after a spate of muggings, including the beating up of a group of Asian wine students in Bordeaux earlier this month.

The incident was condemned in China and by French Minister of the Interior Manuel Valls, aware of potential economic repercussions, as a “xenophobic attack.”

Last month, the Colbert committee, made up of 75 of France’s most prestigious luxury goods companies, including Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Chanel, Dior and Hermes, warned that foreign tourists, particularly Chinese visitors carrying lots of cash, were being deterred from visiting Paris because the city had become “synonymous with insecurity.”

However, Edouard Lefebvre of the Champs-Elysees committee, which represents 182 outlets on the celebrated boulevard, said shops were making special efforts to cater for Chinese shoppers, including having “someone who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and other Chinese languages.”

“We’ve developed a service adapted to their needs, which includes delivering the items they buy to their hotels,” Lefebvre said.

And such is their spending power that sales staff, taxi drivers and even the stereotypical epitome of Gallic grumpiness, the Parisian waiter, are being encouraged to proffer a huang ying, guang lin or ni hao, in an effort to encourage the Chinese to part with their money. London and Britain take note.

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