Portuguese shopping centres vie to attract Chinese tourists

10 March 2014

Chinese tourism in Portugal is increasing significantly, leading shopping centres in the country’s capital, Lisbon, to make moves to attract Chinese tourists, whose spending has almost tripled recently.

The latest event to attract this increasingly important segment of the international tourist market was held in the Amoreiras Shopping Centre in central Lisbon at a time when Portuguese consumers are spending less.

The shopping centre inaugurated an exhibition of Macau photographer Manuel Cardoso, entitled “Golden Spring” and during the inauguration the chairman of the centre’s management company, Mundicenter, said that “considering the high number of Chinese tourists in Portugal it is necessary to improve channels of communication and the message itself.”

The lunar New Year was the reason for the shopping centre “to join the celebration, showing the importance of over 500 years of relations between the people of Portugal and China.”

Other shopping centres launched other initiatives to attract Chinese tourists, including Spanish-owned El Corte Ingles and in the downtown shopping area of the Portuguese capital (Baixa) it is common to see posters in Chinese in jewellery stores and luxury chains, which are the most sought-after outlets.

As well as decorating the shopping centre with Chinese phrases, the Mundicenter group’s campaign to attract tourists also includes a practical shopping guide written in both Chinese and Portuguese.

“In fact there are already store owners with staff from the Chinese community in Portugal, (who) try to keep their stock in line with Chinese tastes and so for the first time we have launched a brochure in Mandarin that will be made available in strategic locations,” said Pereira de Sousa.

Provisional figures from the Bank of Portugal cited by newspaper PresTur showed that spending by Chinese tourists in Portugal rose by 20.25 million euros (+195.7 percent) from January to November 2013, making China the 8th biggest market for Portuguese tourism exports.

The trend is expected to continue, as the Chinese ambassador to Portugal, Huango Songfu told daily financial newspaper Jornal de Negócios at the signing of a protocol with the Portuguese government to make issuing visas to Chinese tourists easier.

The Chinese are also the nationality that has made most use of “golden visas” that offer a residence permit to foreigners who invest over 500,000 euros in real estate, or in Portuguese companies. The “golden visa” scheme is expected to attract almost 500 million euros of investment this year.

Figures from financial company Global Blue showed that Chinese tourists spent more than any other nationality in Portugal, and in the first nine months of the year they spent an average of 1,242 euros per transaction, or almost double the amount spent in 2012. (macauhub)