The story appears on

Page A3

February 23, 2015

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Nation

Spain’s hotels take steps to draw more visitors from China

FIVE-STAR hotels in Spain are serving up white rice for breakfast as the country offers quicker visas and seeks more direct flights from China to tap into the surging wave of Chinese tourists.

When Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited China in September, he said visa applications from the country's travelers would be processed within 48 hours.

The government is also in talks with Asian airlines to boost traffic through Madrid’s underused airport by offering reduced fees and promoting Spain as a hub for travel to Latin America.

So far only Air China offers direct flights between Spain and China, seven times a week. In contrast, Italy has 28 direct weekly flights to China, France has 70 and Germany 87.

While Chinese travelers usually visit several countries during a trip to Europe, they are unlikely to include Spain if they land in another country because of its geographic location, said University of London lecturer Keven Lathan, author of a book on Chinese tourism.

“Spain’s location is less central. You have to add two to three days to make it feasible. There is not much you can do about it,” he said at a recent tourism fair in Madrid.

China has been the world’s fastest-growing source of tourists over the past decade due to rising incomes and the easing of restrictions on foreign travel, according to the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organization.

More than 100 million Chinese are expected to make trips abroad this year.

Spain is the world’s third-most visited country after France and the United States and has long been a favorite sunshine destination for Europeans who flock to its beaches.

But the country received just 288,000 visitors from China last year, according to tourist board Turespana.

By comparison the US welcomed 1.8 million Chinese visitors in 2013.

Lagging behind

While travel industry leaders welcomed Spain’s moves to attract Chinese tourists, they lamented that Madrid was lagging behind other Western nations.

Spain has just three consulates in China that can issue entry visas, compared to eight in France, said Alfaro.

Spain also requires Chinese applicants to pick up their visas in person, which discourages those from cities that do not have a consulate, he said.

France offers home delivery of entry visas while the US allows them to be picked up at bank branches across China.

The tourism sector has taken steps to adapt to the tastes of Chinese visitors, who are one of the biggest spenders among foreign visitors to Spain, as part of a broader strategy to attract more urban travel.

Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which houses many Impressionist paintings, last year started offering maps in Mandarin, while department store chain El Corte Ingles’ flagship Madrid outlet has special services for Chinese tourists, including a gift guide in Mandarin and a Chinese restaurant.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend