Rapid growth seen for outbound China tourism

Updated: 2015-09-08 08:37

By Su Zhou and Yang Feiyue(China Daily USA)

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China, the biggest outbound tourism market, will continue to make rapid strides with trips and overseas consumption, according to a report on Monday.

This is despite a slowdown in the growth of outbound tourist trips in recent years.

The report said the number of Chinese outbound tourist trips reached 109 million last year, up by 11 percent on the previous year and accounting for 9.58 percent of international tourists.

The Market Research Report on Chinese Outbound Tourist Consumption (2014-2015), was released by the Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation.

During the period reviewed, tourists spent $165 billion, an increase of 28 percent year-on-year. This consumption comprised 11 percent of international tourism revenues.

Wei Xiao'an, secretary-general of the China Tourism Leisure Association, said the outbound tourism market in China is embracing a "new normal" just as the economy did - referring to slower growth.

Last year's 11 percent growth compared with expansion of about 60 percent in 1997-98, when policies were introduced to encourage people to travel overseas.

Rapid growth seen for outbound China tourism

But various factors, including simplified visa application procedures and easier tax rebate policies, will continue to boost growth in both the number of trips and spending, Wei said.

Based on a survey of more than 17,000 tourists who traveled abroad in the year up to April, the report found that Chinese tourists are switching from inbound to outbound tourism.

As a result, there is "huge potential in Chinese tourists' spending", the report said.

About 42 percent of the tourists surveyed said they were willing to spend as much as 20 percent of their living expenses on travel.

Industry insiders estimate that growth in the sector will largely stem from people living in second-or third-tier cities, a preferential currency exchange rate and simplified visa application procedures.

The report said first-tier cities were still the top source of outbound tourists. However, Tianjin and Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Liaoning and Sichuan provinces have also seen more tourists take overseas trips.

Li Baochun, deputy general secretary of the World Tourism Cities Federation, said the population of second-and third-tier cities is far greater than first-tier ones. Even a small percentage of travelers from second-and third-tier cities going abroad will trigger significant growth in outbound tourism.

Although the yuan's reference rate against the US dollar was adjusted last month, it is still much stronger against the euro and the US currency than it was in the past, Li said.

"In addition, tax rebate policies offered in Europe have also stimulated shopping by Chinese tourists," he added.

Zhang Guangrui, honorary director of the Tourism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said further growth will be fueled by overseas countries and regions willing to simplify visa applications for Chinese tourists.

Contact the writers at suzhou@chinadaily.com.cn and yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily USA 09/08/2015 page1)