Welcome to Chinese month
This month, Welcome South Africa will be featuring a series of blogs on China, one of South Africa’s largest inbound travel markets.
It’s not just the significant number of Chinese tourists that South Africa welcomes every year that has prompted this, however, but also the fact that Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Thursday 19 February will usher in the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Goat).
As you engage with Chinese guests in your hotel, restaurant or on the tours that you operate, you might want to keep the following useful points in mind:
- In Chinese culture, greetings with strangers are typically formal and are accompanied by a handshake. Make sure you greet the oldest person in the group first and always call people by their titles and surnames until instructed otherwise
- A food basket would make a good gift for your Chinese guests. Do not give scissors, knives or other cutting utensils as they suggest a relationship being severed. And be warned that clocks, handkerchiefs, straw sandals and flowers are associated with funerals and should also be avoided
- Always present your gifts with two hands, and know that your gift might be refused three times before it is accepted
- Keep in mind that eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, and four is unlucky
- Remember that tea is almost always provided with meals, either before your diners sit down or soon afterwards. Although water is sometimes served, tea is the default
- Loud slurping or belching is considered a compliment – assume that your guests are enjoying themselves if they allow a few sounds to escape their mouths while eating
- Many Chinese restaurants have a no-tipping policy. This practice might need to be explained to your Chinese guests
- Many Chinese visitors like to let their hair down at karaoke and casinos, so offer them a way to do this with no fuss around transport
- Chinese value punctuality; do not be late for your engagements with your guests
- You will find that your guests enjoy being connected to the online world. Make sure you have reliable Wi-Fi, or are able to recommend a nearby internet café for their convenience.