13:59 GMT +319 July 2018
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    A picture taken on September 4, 2015 shows Chinese tourists as they have their photo taken in front of Church of the Savior on Blood  in central St. Petersburg. Drawn by its Communist past and a visa-free regime, Chinese tourists are flocking to Russia in droves as it develops new routes touting red tourism

    Russia Beats France as Tourist Destination for Chinese, Here's Why

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    With a growing number of Chinese tourists being robbed on the streets of Paris, Chinese tour companies are now turning to Russia where “Chinese visitors feel safe.”

    In an interview with Sputnik China, Utour Group’s representative Jean-François Zhou explained the 25 percent drop in the number of Chinese visiting France in 2016 by the growing amount of rampant street crime, which mainly targets visitors from the People’s Republic.

    “For many Chinese tourists their dream to see France and Paris has proved a real nightmare. We have seen a big drop in the number of tourists from Asia coming here, mainly because they don’t feel safe. Thefts targeting Chinese and Asian tourists have grown hugely over the past two years.

    The pickpockets take advantage of the Chinese visitors’ habit of splashing cash and take off with their mobile phones and wallets,” Zhou said.

    “The criminals often resort to violence and people often get injured,” he added.

    “They think that the Chinese are rich because they like to go on shopping sprees buying just about everything, including luxuries. Even though many have stopped carrying cash and now use bank cards, the traditional notion of ‘moneyed Chinese’ remains widespread.”

    “This is why many Chinese tourists who come to Europe no longer go to Paris, preferring instead to visit East European countries, including Russia,” Jean-François Zhou said.

    When asked about the reason of these changing preferences, he said that the Chinese see Russia as a longtime friend and ally and that Russian literature and the revolution have had a great impact.

    “With Putin at the helm, Russia has become a democratic country and there is a great deal of interest in China in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Russian history in general. The cheap ruble is also a factor, but the main reason is that in Russia Chinese tourists will not be assaulted and robbed like they are on the streets of Paris,” Zhou noted.

    In an interview with Sputnik China, Dominique Gobert, who writes for France’s top tour industry publication TourMag, said that the French government has taken serious measures to protect visitors from Asia.

    “I see more police patrolling the streets, to protect Chinese and other Asian tourists. Their presence is particularly visible around the Eiffel Tower, the Trocadero and the Notre Dame Cathedral,” he said.

    With Chinese tourists accounting for a hefty share of global tourist flows – 208 million by 2020 – ensuring their safe stay in France is a major priority for the government, alarmed by the continuing drop in the number of Chinese visiting the country.

    French traveler: “Even though police are just about everywhere reminding us that we are safe, little has been done to attract more Chinese tourists here. Each year their numbers are falling and if nothing is done to change this there will be no need hawking around these beautiful pictures. They should do what the Italians did. If they had Chinese law enforcement in France people would feel much safer.”

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    Mildew at dawn:  “I want to warn my country folk: Don’t come to France! Things are very different here and are not as good as you imagined!”

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    Zheng Xiaoniu: “Just got back from Frankfurt and learned about what happened in Berlin. Need to go to Nuremberg tomorrow. Things in Germany are getting real scary, but as I think about getting back to France I think about those terror attacks. Jesus, Europe is already ‘occupied!’ I want to get back to China!”

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    Over 3 million foreign tourists visited Russia in 2016 as demand for tours to Russia increased by almost 20 percent, industry experts said.

    Russian Railway Tours
    © Photo : Russian Railway Tours Press Service
    The 2016 increase continues the trend from 2015, when 2.93 million tourists visited Russia. According to the Russian Union of Tour Operators (RST), citing figures from Russia's Federal State Statistical Service, the most visitors came from China, followed by Germany and the US.

    In an interview with Sputnik China, a sales manager at one of Beijing’s tour agencies in Beijing mentioned a nearly 30 percent drop in the number of tourists they were sending to France.

    “The Chinese are very serious about their security. In November there were serious terrorist attacks in Paris and many of our tourists have been robbed there.”

    She also explained the current drop in Chinese tourist flows to France by the emergence of new destinations they can choose from, including Canada and Northern Europe.

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    Tags:
    changing destinations, security concerns, tourists, Russian Union of Tour Operators, UTour Group, Dominique Gobert, Jean-François Zhou, Vladimir Putin, Europe
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