Quote EndQuote Cross-Cultural Strategy

Already thinking of Winter? Why Businesses should be on the lookout for Asian Winter travellers

Posted by Vanessa Vachet | 08.18.15


The number of Asian Winter Travellers are increasing, especially in BC!

The number of Asian Winter Travellers are increasing, especially in BC!


We in BC are lucky. In summer, we see a record number of tourists and travellers. In winter, we see an equally fruitful tourist season. In fact, as the summer days draw to a close, most marketers are already promoting or preparing for their winter season. Though BC’s reputation as a winter destination is rock solid, not all businesses realise just how much the Asian tourist segment is interested in winter travel. It’s a cultural demographic that, sadly, is often overlooked and under-researched. But to neglect such a segment is a huge mistake. It’s a cultural demographic that’s growing by the day. As many destinations once saw German tourists flooding in, they are now seeing the same thing happen with Asian visitors.  


The good news is that many businesses are at least aware of this trend. They see a lot of Asian tourists, but they often don’t go further than that simple observation. And rarely do they have any marketing in place that is targeted towards a multicultural demographic. Often, they miss opportunities because they don’t see the value of marketing directly to Asian consumers. They think the numbers are too small, and thus, not worth the effort. So, let’s review some important facts from the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) that may surprise you, as well as debunk a few long-held myths.


Myth: Travel from Asian countries has flattened or levelled in recent years.

Fact: Between 2013–2014, Chinese visitors to BC have increased by approximately 30%, with a whopping increase of 29.75% in Mainland Chinese tourists alone.


Myth: People mainly travel from China to Canada to visit family or friends. Recreational activities are secondary interests.

Fact: While a healthy portion of Asian travellers do come here to visit family and friends (35%), what is not so widely known is that 28% visit our country for pleasure. This represents a surge of 85% from previous stats*.



The Top Trip Purposes for Chinese travellers - courtesy of 2012 CTC report

The Top Trip Purposes for Chinese travellers – courtesy of 2012 CTC report


Myth: Asian visitors are only interested in big city entertainment and amenities.

Fact: While they do enjoy big city offerings such as gaming, shopping and luxury dining, according to the CTC, the number one attraction for Asian tourists is Canada’s beautiful scenery, with 86% reporting that as their main reason for visiting. 85% said they wanted to explore nature, while 85% also reported that historical and cultural attractions were their main interests.


Chinese Travellers in Canada: Top Interests, courtesy of CTC 2012 report

Chinese Travellers in Canada: Top Interests, courtesy of CTC 2012 report



Myth: Asian travellers aren’t into winter recreational activities such as skiing.

Fact: In 1996, there were an estimated 10,000 skiers in China. By the end of 2010, the estimate was 5 million. That number is expected to double by the end of 2015. In fact, Chinese tend to treat skiing and snowboarding as a fun family activity and multi-generational group outings are common. Ski resorts are also increasing in China and the interest in the sport has increased even more due to China’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.


In China, Ski Resorts and Ski Trips are becoming increasingly popular

In China, Ski Resorts and Ski Trips are becoming increasingly popular


What are we to take away from all these numbers? All this translates into HUGE potential for the BC tourism sector, especially during winter, when our panoramic mountains are at their most lovely and primed for visitors aching to ski the slopes, toboggan with the family, or to just sit around a comfy chalet sipping hot chocolate while admiring the winter scenery.


BC's natural splendor- Breathtaking views atop Whistler mountain

BC’s natural splendor- Breathtaking views atop Whistler mountain


Our province is also primed to be the key winter destination in Canada, as Asian travellers are already aware of our world-class ski and winter resorts. In fact, Whistler and Blackcomb received the highest rank in Canada of the World’s Top 20 ‘Best Ski Destinations’ by traveleye.com. It also won the coveted spot of 2nd best ski resort in the Top 20 ski resorts in North America, by Conde Nast Ranks. But, do Asian travellers also know where to stay, shop or eat? Do they know which local attractions to visit? And how do they find you? That’s the next level of awareness that most businesses often lack because they don’t spend the time to build their brand, or brand loyalty, amongst local cultural communities, which are often the best ‘news spreaders’ a business could wish. After all, with 35% of Asian visitors coming here to visit family or friends, who do you think they will ask about local entertainment and attractions? The locals who live here! It pays to remember them because they are your best ‘word of mouth’.


The second angle is to reach the overseas travellers themselves. This can be achieved through direct marketing in foreign publications, social sites or popular media channels. This can also be done through online marketing and review sites, which reach past our geographic divides, and can target a cultural segment in unique and interesting ways. You might also consider providing promotional materials that are written in other languages or offer a website that has content in Chinese, Japanese or Korean, for instance. Or, better yet, rather than haphazard marketing, it might be a more worthwhile option to invest a little time and money into understanding these cultural groups and what they want out of a winter travel destination. That’s where the right marketing strategy can help you focus your efforts and can make sure that your business gets increased visibility and consumer engagement, which means the best possible return on your investment.


Want to know more? We welcome your questions and comments on our Quote EndQuote Facebook page, LinkedIn and Twitter @QEQculture.


*Facts and stats from CTC 2012 report. Images courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.