Itâs no secret that affluent Chinese tourists have become the backbone of the travel industry in many Â countries.
This is especially true for France â as Paris is the most dreamed-about European destinationÂ for Chinese travelers.
But they have climbed the Eiffel Tower, tackled luxury shopping on Boulevard Haussmann and done all the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown.Â What is left for them to do in France?
Well, wine tours might be the next big thing to get those visitors from the East to shell out big bucks.
French travel publisher Michelin has just released a Chinese guide book: âFrench Wine Tourâ (ćłĺ˝čĄčé
Having published 13 guide books in simplified Chinese since 2006 â most of them are of Western countries â this is Michelinâs first-ever theme tour guide in Chinese.
The Green Guide gives detailed information on the most well-known French vineyards and their wines, from Bordeaux and Burgundy to Champagne and Cognac.
âWe provide travel guides based on readersâ demand and according to the traveling habits and lifestyle of Chinese people,â noted Miao Xiangbo (čçĽĽćł˘), director of Michelin Guide China Maps and Traveling.
âThe book shows the other side of France and helps tourists to enjoy French wine culture in depth.â
The Michelin wine guide, which will be available soon online and in Xinhua book stores nationwide, has arrived just in time. China officially overtook Germany and the United Kingdom to become the biggest wine importer of BordeauxÂ last September.
Movies have also spurred Chinese tourists to visit Bordeaux. âCherish our Love Forever,â was partially shot in the region and starred Xu Jinglei (right) and Li Yapeng.
According to French Wine News, Chinese buyers spentÂ US$311 million on Bordeaux wineÂ between July 2010 and June 2011.Â So itâs no wonder that the region is welcoming Chinese tourists with open arms.
Grand Hotel de Bordeaux and Spa, a luxury resort located in the main shopping and pedestrian area of the city of Bordeaux, sent a delegation to Shanghai and Beijing in early November to promote their tailored wine tours and to learn about the booming market.
Without any previous marketing effort, five percent of the 150-room hotelâs guests came from China in 2010. The companyâs general manager Yan Vacher estimated the number will be 11 percent for this year, and somewhere between 15-20 percent for 2012.
âSo when you got this result, youâve got to understand who are your clients â youâve got to understand why they come to Bordeaux and what are their needs,â said Vacher.
Grand Hotel de Bordeaux and Spa arranges tailored private vineyard visits for its guests. Tourists can request meals or picnics with the owners or even a helicopter tour over different vineyards. Even the super-rich Chinese wine lovers can have their wine tour in private jets from Paris to Bordeaux, with limousines and Chinese speaking concierge service on arrival, but you need to be a member of the prestigious Shanghai Travelersâ Club.
The cost of a wine tour package starts from US$67. And since the toursâ launch, the hotel has witnessed very positive feedback from Chinese customers.Vacher also revealed that the hotel plans to open a Chinese restaurant next year to specifically cater to Chinese tourists.
Thomas Duroux, managing director of Chateau Palmer, said that 30 percent of visitors to his vineyard have been Chinese in the past six months, and they were looking for high-end wines with prestigious brands.
âThe number of Chinese people in Bordeaux has increased tremendously â of course, we received a lot of professionals, but we also see a lot of tourists,â added Duroux, who estimated a fast growth in the number of visiting tourists in the near future.
Yan Vacher also anticipated wine tour to be the next trend among Chinese tourists to France because of the interest in learning about wine in China, and the fact that âChinese travelers have just come to discover the region of Bordeaux.â