To promote Portuguese gastronomy, monuments, and festivals, a promo mini-program has been launched on WeChat. The initiative illustrates the efforts of the Portuguese authorities to generate more value in China, the world's largest source market.
The content of the mini-program has all been translated into Chinese and consists of 750 points of interest divided into regions, including tourist attractions, entertainment, shopping, gastronomy, or hospitality.
For example, by clicking on the "Porto and the North" section, Chinese consumers can find out about the region's main attractions, from the historic center of Porto to the Montesinho Nature Park in the northeast of Transmontano. In the Gastronomy and Wines subsection, potential travelers can find presentations in Chinese on Francesinha, bacalhau à brás or the Vinho Verde Route.
Launched in 2011 by Chinese internet giant Tencent, WeChat is now an indispensable part of everyday life in China, combining the functions of a social network, instant messaging service, and digital wallet. Various estimates put the number of active users of the app in the Asian country at more than 800 million.
Before the pandemic in 2019, Chinese tourists abroad reached 155 million and spent $255 billion (€236 billion) across borders, as reported by a Citigroup analysis.
But China kept its borders closed for nearly three years under its "zero cases" Covid-19 policy, lifted last December.
Following the reopening, the Chinese authorities added Portugal to a second group of countries to which they have begun to allow group tourist travel.
Turismo de Portugal noted that in 2019 more than 385,201 Chinese visited Portugal and spent 224 million euros there, 20% more than in 2018.
Currently, there are only two flights a week between Portugal and China. Until the pandemic began, there were three flights a week.
Beijing Capital Airlines, which operates the route, predicts that the original frequency will be increased later this year, depending on demand.
Even though Chinese travelers may face obstacles like no commercial flights to Europe, expired passports, lack of Schengen visas, or safety concerns, they are still highly anticipated in Europe.
According to China's Foreign Tourism Research Institute, approximately 18 million Chinese tourists are expected to travel abroad during the year's first half. This number is expected to increase to 40 million in the second half.