The Cologne Tourist Board has been using the Chinese social media platform WeChat since mid-January. Even during the pandemic, the Board plans to use its extensive account to offer its growing Chinese target group intriguing tips about Cologne as a tourist destination. “On the basis of the market assessment model we created in 2020, we regard WeChat as a conceptual approach to more intense development of the future-oriented Chinese market. Our goal is to spark people’s interest in Cologne in the medium term so that in the long term they will decide to visit our city,” explains Dr Jürgen Amann, the CEO of the Cologne Tourist Board.
China is the second-biggest overseas tourist market for Cologne, right after the USA. In 2019 — before the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic — visitors from the Far East accounted for more than 100,000 overnight stays in Cologne. That was a record-setting figure for guests from the region. For visitors from China, a visit to Cologne Cathedral is an absolute must. Other favourites include boat trips on the Rhine, Cologne’s museums, and the city’s vast range of restaurants and shopping opportunities. In addition, many Chinese visit the cathedral city for business reasons, usually to participate in major trade fairs and conferences. Cologne and Beijing have been closely connected as partner cities since 1987.
The new WeChat account offers a comprehensive look at Cologne and its wealth of attractions for visitors. From sightseeing, culture and cuisine to hotels, events, shopping and medical tourism, Cologne presents itself to the Chinese market using an innovative digital approach. “As part of our digitalization drive, we decided to use digital communication for developing the Chinese market. That’s why we are digitally providing target group-specific content about Cologne on our WeChat account for the diverse platform users and potential travellers from China,” says Amann. “Thanks to our new WeChat channel, we will continue to be present in the important Chinese source market for the time after the pandemic is over.”
WeChat is one of the world’s biggest and most influential social media platforms. With more than a billion active users, WeChat is installed on almost every smartphone in China. It reaches more people in China than any other medium. The WeChat app is used for telephone calls, as a messenger service, for posting photos and for booking travel arrangements. Thanks to its additional feature WeChatPay, it’s also used by almost 900 million people as a payment service.