Outbound tourism set to surge, report says

Updated: 2014-01-22 11:39

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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By 2020, the number of outbound Chinese tourists is expected to double to 200 million and their spending will triple, according to a report from brokerage and investment group CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.

About 100 million Chinese tourists traveled internationally last year. That number will grow 100 percent in the next decade and a half, fueled by growing per-capita GDP as well as an increase in allotted vacation days, according to the Hong Kong-based firm's report, titled Chinese Tourists - Exploring New Frontiers.

Through talking to 1,000 Chinese travelers from 41 cities, CLSA found the US and France were the top travel destinations in 2012, with 1.5 million and 1.3 million visitors, respectively. The report predicted that by 2020, the US will see 5.7 million visitors and France 3.9 million.

While the US, France and other Western countries are "dream destinations", Asian countries will still "continue to benefit the most from mainland tourism growth," according to the report. Chinese travelers listed Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore as their top destinations for the next three years, it said. Hong Kong and Macau will continue to be top international destinations, but visitor numbers are expected to decline from 62 percent to 45 percent, the report said.

Outbound tourism set to surge, report says

Based on historical evidence, countries that had per-capita GDP growth beyond $8,000 saw "explosive outbound travel," the report said. China's per capita GDP for 2012 was $6,091, according to World Bank data.

Shopping remains a major priority for vacationing Chinese travelers, with tourists making two-thirds of their purchases overseas, the report said. The global luxury-goods sector expanded by 41 percent between 2009 and 2012, with demand from Chinese tourists increasing 135 percent over the same period, it said. Luxury-goods purchases by Chinese tourists are expected to represent 50 percent of that market by 2020, according to the report.

"Explosive projected growth in outbound Greater China travel numbers offers immense opportunity for countries to benefit from Chinese tourists' desire for new experiences - from sightseeing to food, to hotels, to gaming and shopping," said Aaron Fischer, the report's author. "Tourists will become increasingly savvy, independent and demand high quality experiences and service."

As the number of Chinese visitors doubles by 2020, the airlines, luxury goods, hotels, and property sectors will see "significant impact," CLSA said. In addition, as more travelers self-book trips online, the Internet travel sector will also benefit significantly, according to the report.

As the Chinese traveler continues to evolve, US companies need to concentrate on catering to this new demographic, said Renee Hartmann, co-founder of China Luxury Advisors, a consultancy group that works with brands on their China strategy.

Chinese tourists' travel patterns differ from those of other tourists, Hartmann said. "It used to be that all of them used to be coming on group tours, but that's changing quite a bit now. You're starting to get a lot more individual travelers, so I think the way people have to reach out to them is very different," she said.

"Most of the way Chinese tourists share information or find out about things is from the Internet and from word of mouth, so you're looking at a lot of reaching out through social media," she said.

The Chinese National Tourism Administration reported earlier this month that 97 million Chinese visitors went abroad in 2013. It said it expects the number to surpass 100 million this year. On average, Chinese tourists visiting the US spent $7,107 per person in 2011, according to tourism administration data.


(China Daily USA 01/22/2014 page2)