PORTUGAL is launching a number of initiatives to build relations with China and tap its booming outbound market.
Key elements include opening a tourism office in Beijing in January and forging a closer relationship with Macau's Institute for Tourism Studies, said Portugal's secretary of state for tourism, Adolfo Mesquita Nunes, at the Global Tourism Economy Forum last week.
“In China, we face an obstacle as Portugal is not a well-known tourism destination there,” he said. “So we're having to identify and work with the right operators in China to increase our penetration there.”
While the Atlantic nation's key focus will remain on established tourism source markets such as Europe and Brazil, top-level discussions are taking place with Beijing to increase trade.
“(Portugal's tourism ministry and Turismo de Portugal) recently met with the vice president of the China National Tourism Association to strengthen relations between the two authorities and to create a strategy with them to build tourism between our countries,” said Nunes.
He said “opening a tourism delegation” in Beijing will play a key role, while the goal is to launch direct flights between the destinations.
Portugal will also leverage its historical relationship with Macau's Institute for Tourism Studies to build bridges with China. Learning more about the country's culture and the needs of its tourists will be important so Portugal can improve its welcome for the Chinese, whose arrivals grew 30 per cent to 60,000 last year.
The Visa Gold investment scheme will also be used to target wealthy Chinese willing to pay 500,000 euros (US$676,422) for a residency permit, which will allow them access to the other 25 EU member states that are party to the Schengen Borders Agreement.
From January to September, Portugal issued twice as many visas for Chinese visitors as it did in the whole of last year.