Cannes lacks Chinese Films but Chinese tourism forecast to surge

Original article / interviews by Rebecca Whitlocke for China Central Television (CCTV).

The Red Carpet at Cannes

The 6th Chinese Film Festival in France will run from 24 May to 19 July 2016, with 11 Chinese films released in 2015 and 2016 participating in the event, including ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2,’ ‘Monster Hunt‘The Master’ and ‘Mojin-The Lost Legend’.

The director of the China Cultural Center in France, Su Xu, said this year’s festival will start in Strasbourg before heading to other areas of France, including Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Cannes and even Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.  For Cannes, screenings will be shown 31 May to 11 June at Cinéma Les Arcades.

Rebecca Whitlocke, Founder of Access Riviera, a French-based travel and events site says the Chinese Film Festival is gaining more popularity, especially starting in May when industry interest is high due to the Cannes Film Festival.

LiCannes2016
Li Bingbing in Stephen Rolland. Photo Credit: NGC

She says ‘Last year, the Cannes Film Festival hosted the first ever China Summit which was a key networking opportunity for filmmakers and a superb series of talks and insight into the world’s fastest growing box office market.  Cannes Film Festival 2016 has no Chinese films in competition or Chinese filmmakers on juries, however the red carpet this year has already welcomed Chinese stars including Gong Li, Ni Ni and Li Bingbing. The Chinese Film Festival in France allows the public and industry to see the level of production with Chinese films just after the Cannes Film Festival, and it strengthens Franco-Chinese relations each year’.

The increased exposure for the Chinese film market also reflects well on Chinese tourism to France – in 2015, over 2 million Chinese visited France and the French Government wants this to double.  The French Riviera is the main destination after Paris and the weak euro means Chinese shoppers are still attracted to France, even in light of the Parisian terrorist attacks.

Rebecca says ‘The tourism downturn was short-lived and seasoned Chinese tourists capitalized on less crowds and lower prices. France has improved visa processes for Chinese visitors and it still has the allure of culture, luxury shopping and increasingly, wine tourism’.

The French Riviera recently named Liu Ye, one of China’s leading and most famous film stars as an ‘ambassador’ for tourism and we spoke to Jameson Farn, Director of Experience the French Riviera, a boutique detail-oriented travel resource planning service for his insights about how this collaboration will affect business in the future.

Jameson says ‘I see it as being a positive for the French Riviera. The area is already known worldwide as a truly international travel destination and in the past couple of years we have noticed an increase in visitors from China who have a great enthusiasm and interest for France beyond the regular tourist track. It’s always pleasing to hear from clients that they want to experience the region as the French people do. From our perspective, the French Riviera tourism businesses have changed according to client’s needs whether they are traveling as a group or on their own and we have been finding that people are booking for much longer stays now, a person planning a month-long holiday in the region is quickly becoming the norm’.

Additionally, China is the second largest international market for Air France, and Nice Cote d’Azur Airport and Club Fly2 Côte d’Azur have now entered into a partnership that will help bring more Chinese to the French Riviera.

Jameson says ‘As anyone knows, flying into Nice Cote d’Azur Airport is a wonderful welcome to the region given the surrounding beauty, and once inside the airport it’s fairly easy to navigate. I think the airport could add more Chinese language signage to help with directions and an information center would be beneficial too, but I’m sure with the partnership this will come about shortly’.

Other than increased flight routes, there are some big challenges ahead for Nice Cote d’Azur Airport in attracting more Chinese tourists, however the steps are already being taken to ensure the Chinese market is retained over other European destinations.

Article Credit: Rebecca Whitlocke