Chinese consultant praises attractiveness of Costa for investment and visitors

  • Veline Ong, on a visit to Marbella, said that the Catalan crisis is switching Far East interest to the Malaga and Madrid areas

A Chinese businesswoman has been explaining how the Catalan political crisis is encouraging Chinese tourists and investors to look at other areas of Spain, including Malaga and the Costa del Sol and Madrid.

On a factfinding visit to Marbella, Veline Ong, a consultant specialising in import and export and high-value goods and services, said, “The luxury tourist coming from China is looking for safety and that means that at the moment they are turning to Malaga and not Catalonia.

And within the Malaga area, Marbella is an important destination.”

She went on to explain that the province is attractive to the Chinese visitor not just for its climate and its cuisine.

Latest government data showed a 2.3% fall in global tourist numbers to Catalonia last November, the last month for when data is available.

This contrasts with a 4.4% increase in Andalucía.

Ong's company, which works with around 50 partners in Spain and some 300 in China, has estimated that around 350 million euros of investment has been put on hold in Spain from China, adding that these were mostly projects for new hotels.

Ong's main clients are wineries, olive oil processors and increasingly real estate companies.

Ong also gave more details of an educational programme that her company has launched that will teach Chinese children Spanish language and culture on short stays.

She said that she hoped to find a good venue for one of these centres on her visit to Marbella.

However, she also went on to criticise the “lack of commercial vision” in Spain.

“They don't know how to sell,” she added decisively, “because they already know the product they work with is good quality. However, the product has to be visually appealing as well, and this is especially true for the Chinese consumer.”

By way of example, she cites the olive oil sector: “There's no point selling a high-quality oil in a five litre plastic bottle.”