During the first week of May, Paris catered to what could be considered one of the largest tourist groups in modern history.
The New York Times reports that far from a modest company outing, more than 6,400 employees of the Chinese multinational conglomerate the Tiens Group enjoyed a four-day vacation in France and Monaco — fully funded by the company’s multi-billionaire founder, Li Jinyuan.
Wearing identical blue t-shirts and hats, the employees traveled to Paris, Nice, and Cote d’Azur, among other places, courtesy of Jinyuan. The employees made the journey to France from the company’s headquarters in Tianjin (which is roughly 90 miles south of Beijing) by flying on 84 jets. They occupied more than 200 hotels (sometimes putting them at full capacity) and used dozens of trains to travel throughout France and Monaco.
The massive vacation was meant to celebrate the Tiens Group’s 20th anniversary. About 75% of the company’s workforce was present at the trip.
The vacation was so large that the head of research at the Paris Tourism Office, Thomas Deschamps, labeled it an “industrial-size event.” He estimated that the business spent $13.5 million or so on lodging, transportation, food, and shopping.
Deschamps, who works for a city that generated $17 billion in tourism revenue last year, was more than pleased.
“It is clear that visits such as these are good for France,” Deschamps said. “It shows that Paris has the know-how to host big business conferences, even as it was a challenge to receive and host them all at the same time.”
However, not everyone was happy with the trip, especially certain observers in China. Tao Duanfang, a contributor to theBeijing News, considered the vacation little more than a sly, “Maoist-style” propaganda spectacle meant to encourage the Chinese to make more money, which is seemingly contrary to the principles of the communist state.
“This definitely wasn’t just a rest or a holiday,” Duanfang said, “but a ‘work trip’ or a ‘struggle,'” referring to a common Chinese political term.
The Tiens Group is a direct-sales company that focuses on making health care appliances, skin care and household products, and health food. It also owns a university and a medical research lab in China. Selling to consumers in over 190 countries, the company hopes to expand into France.
The vacation also was responsible for a Guinness world record for the longest human-formed phrase visible from the sky. When the tourists reached Nice, they formed a giant human chain that spelled out “Tiens’ Dream is Nice in the Cote d’Azur” on the beach.