Thereâ€™s no question that movies and TV shows influence Chinese travel preferences. In fact, many Chinese tourism success stories can be attributed to the influence of Chinese media productions. Perhaps most famously, blockbusterÂ Somewhere Only We KnowÂ set in Prague helped elevate Czechia to become one of the most popular Chinese tourist destinations in Europeâ€”even receiving more visitors than the United Kingdom.
As such, it should perhaps not come as a surprise that destinations and tourism businesses around the world are vying for Chinese media productions to boost popularity among Chinese consumers. For example,Â Chinese mediaÂ earlier this week reported that the Danish island of Funen hopes to see a boost in Chinese visitation owing to Chinese movies and TV shows set on the island.
But itâ€™s not just destinations. Tourism businesses and even entire tourism subsectors are betting on the influencing power of Chinese media productions. AsÂ Jing TravelÂ previously reported, Chinaâ€™s struggling cruise industry also has hopes for an upcoming TV production:Â One Boat, One Worldâ€”a â€śpatrioticâ€ť TV drama set on a cruise ship. If the show will prove enough to turn the tides for Chinaâ€™s now shrinking cruise industry remains to be seen.
The latest partnership along these lines to beÂ announcedÂ is that between 2018 China-EU Tourism Year media partnersÂ China Global Television NetworkÂ (CGTN; formerly known as CCTV-NEWS, CCTV-9, and CCTV English International) and Lyon-basedÂ Euronews.
Framed as a result of each media organizationâ€™s partnership with theÂ ongoing China-EU Tourism Year, CGTN and Euronews have committed to â€śhighlight some of the most interesting destinations in Europe and Chinaâ€ť through television programming.
Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the two parties, Euronews and CGTN will each produce â€śspecialâ€ť 25-minute long monthly programs that showcase destinations in China and Europe. According to the companiesâ€™ announcement, the programs will showcase â€śsome of the best cities, coastlines, mountains and culture in Europe and Chinaâ€ť as well as â€śoff-the-beaten track places.â€ť
â€śI am proud to cooperate with CGTN; our joint initiative contributes to the aim of the [2018 China-EU Tourism Year] for a unique cross-cultural exchange that allows Europeans to explore the magnificence of China and Chinese to discover the richness of our continent,â€ť Euronews CEO Michael Peters said in aÂ press statement.
While the ambition to jointly promote European destinations in China and Chinese destinations in Europe is laudable, particularly in the context of the China-EU Tourism Year, the true impact of the upcoming TV programs on Chinese tourism flows is questionable.
Critically, the partnership is explicitly between CGTN and Euronews; not CGTNâ€™s state-owned parent companyÂ CCTV. The reason this matters is because CGTN is a group of international channels broadcast in international languages such as English, Russian, and Arabicâ€”not Chinese. As such CGTN is perhaps best compared to channels (and soft power initiatives) such as Japanâ€™sÂ NHK World, Qatarâ€™sÂ Al Jazeera, and Russiaâ€™sÂ RT.
In other words, itâ€™s questionable if the programming intended to promote travel in Europe to Chinese consumers will reach Chinese consumers at all. CGTNâ€™s intended audience is very much non-Chinese, but needless to say, the intended targets of the European Unionâ€™s China tourism ambitions are very much Chinese.
While the reach of the programming is highly questionable for the Europeans, the same canâ€™t be said for China. Euronews reaches 430 million households around the world, andâ€”criticallyâ€”170 million European households. China, aÂ somewhat unpopularÂ destination for foreign tourists, could certainly use the spotlight.
Of course, â€śfreeâ€ť spotlight on European airwaves doesnâ€™t solve Chinaâ€™s fundamental issues in terms of inbound travel such as visa policy and inconvenient internet censorship. â€śEnjoy a smooth layover in Chinaâ€™s most Instagram-friendly city, Chongqing,â€ť the tile of aÂ CGTN reportageÂ read yesterday. That would be all good and well if it wasnâ€™t for Instagram being banned in China, including in Chongqing.
In the end, it looks like CGTN and Euronewsâ€™s odd partnership will do little to boost tourism to either China or Europe. Europe will gain extremely limited exposure to Chinese consumers, and CGTNâ€™s tone-deaf travel reporting will inevitably fail to convince Euronewsâ€™ viewers to go to theÂ most Instagram-friendlyÂ destination where Instagram is banned and visa policy remains unwelcoming.
â€“This article originally appeared on Jing Travel.Â