There are about 1,3 billion Chinese people in China, approximately a quarter of the world’s total population. Chinese economy is doing quite well while Europe’s and the United States economy is struggling to get back on their feet. China has recently eased on travel regulations and visa application procedures for their citizens, which have resulted in that there are more tourists visiting Sweden from China than other Asian country.
Sweden’s official website for tourism & travel information, VisitSweden, was quoted saying a few weeks ago in a TV news interview that “China is not a priority market”. Instead, due to an expected recession in Europe, the focus is on marketing weekend trips and 4 to 5 days stays to Sweden from other European countries. The Visit Sweden website doesn’t even have a summary in Chinese.
The ignorance about the importance of Chinese tourism to Sweden reminds me of an expression we often use in Sweden when we don’t understand something or it’s significance, “det är som Kinesiska” or “It’s like Chinese”, which is the equivalent of “It’s like Greek” in most parts of the English speaking world.
Despite the obvious differences between Chinese and Swedish culture, we DO have some similarities, such as society’s emphasis on the common good vs. the individuals needs, a strong pride in local cultural history, consensus building etc.
However, I strongly feel that Sweden has plenty more to offer Chinese tourists than quick visits to Stockholm and its archipelago, which by any account is a beautiful choice, but certainly not all there is to enjoy. I believe Sweden’s exceptionally clean lakes and rivers, vast forests, arctic regions, wildlife, food and local culture can offer plenty of unique experiences, exploration and adventure, if appropriately developed and marketed to our friends from China, and preferably in the Chinese language.
So, why is the Chinese tourist NOT a top priority? Well, it’s like Chinese to me.