Baidu and HERE keep Chinese travellers on the map

London
51° 30' 23.112" N, -0° 7' 37.956" E
12th Dec 2014
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HERE has partnered with Chinese search giant Baidu to supply maps for its desktop and mobile map services outside China.

baidu

The desktop version of Baidu Maps uses HERE map content right now, with the Baidu Maps apps for Android and iOS adding content to cover Taiwan first, with other countries to follow. Baidu is the first Chinese company to offer location-based services to locals travelling abroad.

Chinese tourism is a rapidly growing and enormously powerful economic force.

Fifteen years ago, the number of foreign trips by Chinese people totalled just 5 million. By 2004, that number had leapt to 29 million. In 2013, the total was 97 million.

But it’s not just sheer numbers that has worldwide tourist destinations excited. It’s also their spending power.

High domestic taxes on luxury goods makes shopping abroad attractive to many Chinese people. Half of Chinese tourists said that their trip abroad was for the purpose of shopping, according to a 2014 survey.

Chinese tourists spent USD 102 million abroad in 2012, already making them the world’s biggest spenders overseas. According to a Morgan Stanley report from earlier this year, that figure is set to almost double by next year.

Chinese in US

People using HERE in Chinese in North America

Where do they go?

It’s a rapidly changing picture again. Historically, Hong Kong and Taiwan were the most popular locations. It makes sense: there’s no language barrier; it’s easy to get a visa; they’re geographically close; and both offer excellent shopping experiences.

That’s set to change, though. Travel further afield is growing as travellers become more adventurous, and most Chinese travel agents predict these numbers will continue to rise. Analysis of long haul flight information reveals the following top ten destinations:

  1. Seoul
  2. London
  3. Paris
  4. Berlin
  5. Zurich
  6. Athens
  7. Barcelona
  8. Los Angeles
  9. Toronto
  10. San Francisco
Distribution of people using HERE in Chinese in Western Europe

People using HERE in Chinese in Western Europe

But cities hoping to cash in on incoming yuan from wealthy Chinese tourists need to be prepared.

In 2010, most Chinese tourists coming to Europe visited Paris. But in August 2014, Bloomberg reported a slow-down in these visits, partly because the real-life experience of the first waves of Chinese travellers to the city couldn’t quite match-up to the romanticised image of the city received from the cinema. Visitors were also victims of street crime – they tend to carry a lot of cash, making them a target. The reception from French waiters and other service staff was allegedly lacking in bonhomie, too.

By contrast, London department store Harrods has registered a 40 per cent rise in sales to Chinese shoppers, with each visit valued at more than £3,500, by going the extra mile to welcome them. The store hired 75 Mandarin-speaking staff and installed China UnionPay terminals at tills.

We trust that having HERE at hand will do as much to make Chinese tourists feel at home when they’re abroad.

HERE sales boss Bruno Bourguet told us:

“Together with Baidu, we want to help the growing number of Chinese tourists get the most from their travels.”

image credit: Michael Pham

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