China firm treats 2,500 staff to paella, sangria in Spain
Some 2,500 employees of a Chinese conglomerate arrived in Spain Wednesday for an all-paid holiday treat complete with a giant paella and sangria party, in a trip hailed as helping the ailing local economy.
The Tiens group said it had booked 1,650 hotel rooms, 70 buses and four entire high-speed trains for the one-week tour of Spain which takes in Madrid, the central city of Toledo and Barcelona, costing a grand total of seven million euros ($8 million).
In a statement, Tiens said the mainly Chinese workers would be treated to a giant paella and sangria party in the Spanish capital and a flamenco show.
Tiens, founded by Chinese tycoon Li Jinyuan, employs some 8,000 people and operates in a variety of sectors including biotechnology, retail and tourism.
It had already made headlines last year when it paid a holiday to France for 6,400 of its workers.
In a sign of the importance of the holiday for the debt-ridden Spanish capital, Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena met with Tiens Vice-President Liu Tianao.
"The economic impact of this trip is significant for Madrid," the city hall said in a statement.
"Every year, 300,000 Chinese tourists come to Spain, most of them big consumers, who devote 70 percent of their travel budget to purchases," it added, citing information from a 2015 global tourism summit.
"The Chinese are the most profitable tourists for Spain's tourism sector."
Spain -- the world's third tourism destination with 68 million visitors in 2015 -- is seeking to attract more notoriously heavy-spending Chinese travellers, who often prefer France, Switzerland and Italy when they come to Europe.
This year, several new direct air routes from Spain to China are expected to be launched.
© 2016 AFP