Dutch museums stepping up to attract more Chinese visitors

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Major Dutch museums, led by Rijksmuseum, are stepping up efforts to attract more Chinese visitors, responding to the steep rise in tourists from China.

"World class museums around the world, like the Metropolitan in New York, are active in engaging the Chinese market. The Rijksmuseum is one of them," the museum's general director Wim Pijbes told Xinhua in an interview.

During 2014, the museum was visited by 15,305 people from China. This figure is a small compared to the record number of 520,698 visitors to its recent exhibition on the late creations of Rembrandt. But more and more Chinese visitors are expected in coming years.

"We have a growing number of Chinese visitors. The museum offers world culture at its highest level and houses masterpieces of great artists also known in China, like Rembrandt or Vermeer," said Pijbes.


Not surprisingly, Rijksmuseum is launching more information in Chinese, more services targeting at Chinese consumers as well as new exhibitions themed on Asia-related subjects, all tailor-made initiatives to cater to growing visitors from the east.

It has published guide books, books on masters and offers audio tours in Chinese. The official Rijksmuseum app, which offers the possibility of browsing through the Rijksmuseum, is also offered in Chinese.

UnionPay, a Chinese bank card, is accepted in the Museum payment system. Tickets make up a large part of the museum's 70-million-euro annual budget.

The museum, which is at the heart of the Netherlands' cultural scene for over 130 years and recently awarded "European museum of the Year," is also mounting exhibitions this year that no doubt will appeal to Chinese tourists.

"Early Photography in Imperial China" will open on June 5. And "Asia in Amsterdam -- Exotic luxury in the Golden Age" will run from Oct. 16, 2015 until Jan. 17, 2016 to display Asian luxury goods traded in Europe in the 17th century.

"The exhibition will illuminate important aspects of the trade that was taking place between Asian countries, like China, India, Indonesia and Europe at the start of the Golden Age," Pijbes said.

In addition, the museum's permanent collection, which is a major attraction to international travelers, could appeal to more visitors from China, noted the director.

After the renovation the museum's entire collection has been reordered chronologically telling the history the Netherlands and of Dutch art from the Middle Ages to the 21st century. A separate pavilion houses a rich collection of Asian art, including Chinese artwork, dating from 2000 BC.

"We are also in negotiations with museums in mainland China to cooperate in future exhibitions," added Pijbes.

This may even give a chance for Chinese to work at the Rijks. A recent ruling by the Dutch government has simplified procedures for the Rijksmuseum to hire international talent.


Other Dutch museums are also gradually taking initiatives to cater to the Chinese. Amsterdam's Stedelijk Museum, also located at the city's Museum Square (Museumplein), has participated in a sales mission organized by the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC) to China.

In 2015 the museum, which has one of the world's most important collections of modern and contemporary art and design, has invited about 25 Chinese tour operators and travel agents to Amsterdam, for a so-called Fam Trip.

During this trip organized in cooperation with NBTC and Amsterdam Marketing, these companies will have the chance to familiarize with the destination and the collection of the Stedelijk Museum.


According to the NBTC, China showed the biggest growth in arrivals to Holland in 2014. The number of Chinese visitors increased by 18 percent to more than 250,000 arrivals over the previous year, a figure marking double as many as in 2010.

For 2015, a growth of some 18 percent is expected, bringing the number of Chinese visitors to about 295,000, while the total number of international tourists to the country is expected to rise only by 4 percent.

Although far from being among the top sources of tourists to the Netherlands, Chinese visitors' spending power is more than twice as high as other international tourists, according to the NBTC's incoming tourism survey.

While visitors spent on average around 600 euros (657.87 U.S. dollars) per person on their holidays in Holland last year, the average spend of the Chinese was well over 1,250 euros per visit.

"Chinese visitors are 'big spenders,'" Therese Ariaans, NBTC's spokesperson, told Xinhua. Total expenditure made by Chinese tourists in the Netherlands reached 314 million euros last year. While a big part of the money goes toward shopping (done by 62 percent of Chinese tourists), art museums and galleries are also high on many visitors' lists with 25 percent doing such activities in 2014, according to the survey.

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