China’s Outbound Travel Boom Shows No Sign Of Slowing
Chinese Travelers On Course To Take Around 80 Million Overseas Trips This Year
Any broader slowdown in the Chinese economy is having little effect on the country’s growing appetite for international travel. According to figures released this week by the Ministry of Public Security, 38.6 million mainland Chinese citizens ventured outside the country’s borders in the first half of this year, a nearly 20 percent rise over the same period last year.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of these travelers were headed to destinations not too far from home: Hong Kong led the list, followed by Macau, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
With this year’s surge, Chinese tourists are on track to take around 80 million overseas trips over the course of 2012. As the FT notes today, two years ago, Shao Qiwei of the China National Tourism Association predicted 100 million overseas trips by Chinese tourists by 2015. Yet, given current growth rates, this number could come even sooner.
What the growing international presence of mainland Chinese tourists translates to is a much-needed influx of spending in places like Europe, Japan and North America. Per capita spending by outbound Chinese travelers remains among the highest in the world, with each spending around US$1,000 per trip (over less than $900 per trip in 2009) and amounting to nearly $100 billion annually.
In certain — more distant — markets, such as the United States, however, spending by Chinese visitors tends to be far higher. According to China Daily, mainland Chinese tourists spend around $6,000 per trip to the US, with some dropping cash not only on sightseeing or luxury shopping but also on therapeutic tourism or high-priced real estate.
According to a survey released last month by the Hurun Report and International Luxury Travel Market Asia, the typical wealthy Chinese outbound traveler typically goes on holiday three times per year for an average of eight days, traveling in a group of nine. Though more seasoned Chinese travelers are being seen engaging in more experience-based activities — anything from scuba diving in Hawaii to safaris in Africa, shopping still remains the top motivation for overseas travel.
As the duty-free refund group Global Blue recently noted, Chinese tourists in Europe spend on average of €813 (US$1,011) on tax-free goods on each trip, accounting for 25 percent of untaxed purchases in France last year. As Christian Mantei, the general director of Atout France, a marketing agency for France abroad, recently told Le Figaro, “The Chinese are by far the No. 1 shoppers in France…Last year, they represented only 1.5 percent of foreign visitors, yet they spent about €500 million ($621.5 million).”