The Chinese actress Liu Yifei has been named tourism ambassador of the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi as the city seeks to make the most of wealthy Chinese tourists’ increasing interest in the Middle East.
Last week, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism shared a promotional video featuring Liu on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo. In the 1-minute video, the Mulan actress is seen gliding through Abu Dhabi’s tourist hotspots, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Galleria shopping centre, and the presidential palace, in an assortment of flowy dresses. The video gained 7.9 million views and was shared 32,000 times.
The tourism authority added that Chinese nationals can stay in the United Arab Emirates for up to 30 days without a visa – a policy which has been in place since 2016.
Liu further promoted Abu Dhabi in a series of photos on her own Weibo channel encouraging fans to “encounter the romance of the half ocean, half desert city”. The images are stills taken from the official promotional video and clearly position a trip to Abu Dhabi as a luxury experience with fine dining, pristine beaches, and destination shopping.
According to one trend report published earlier this year, 20% of Chinese millionaires plan to visit the Middle East in the next 12 months, challenging Europe’s status as wealthy Chinese tourists’ favourite travel destination.
Since the pandemic, China’s High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) have more confidence in their spending power than ever before, and a majority of them expect to maintain or increase their spending overseas on premium alcohol, skincare, jewellery, and watches.