China has turned into one of the largest outbound tourism markets in the world during the last few years.
It saw a 20% increase in its tourism during the year 2000. It is likely to increase a huge number of 234 million of tourists by the year 2020. During the year 2015, there were 120 million outbound tourists, 12% more than that of 2014. Last year alone, tourists spent $104.5 billion the US, which is a huge increase in expenditure as compared to the $30 billion the US which were spent by the tourists in 2007. It is likely to become the 4th largest tourism market in the world by 2020. There are lots of reasons behind this expansion of Chinese outbound tourism market. This article evaluates those factors and analyses the current tourism situation in China in order to predict its future.
Why are Chinese Spending so Much on Outbound Tourism?
There is a simple reason behind it. The Chinese have become economically stable with a high ratio of flexible income. The government has also lifted up its sanctions on traveling abroad, and now many Chinese people utilize their money by traveling to places and experiencing something new in every country. There is a philosophy of Chinese people that you must go far away to see the whole picture. You can see the whole picture while standing very close to it. They travel to faraway lands and learn new things and then try to improve their own practices, culture, tradition, industries, society and every other aspect of their lives. It is the main reason behind their huge success. They also make their land inviting for others so that foreigners can come to their country. It does not only improve their economic condition but also allow them to create cultural diversity which is crucial to surviving in the changing world.
Which are the Most Popular Tourist Destinations?
China is blessed with a large number of naturally beautiful places. It has diverse geography with mountains, lakes, grassy plains, forests, waterfalls, rivers, and meadows. This country is not only filled with natural landscapes but also have hundreds of manmade attractions. Metropolitan cities of China are world’s most luxurious cities with all types of attractions including parks, zoos, spas, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, entertainment centers, theaters, cinemas, skyscrapers, and what not. Despite all these tourist attractions in China, Chinese people love to travel in foreign countries to take the glory of their country to the next level. It is one of the main reasons behind the success of Chinese outbound tourism market.
When it comes to outbound tourism, Chinese do have their favorites. Before the breaking out of the MERS, South Korea has remained as their number 1 favorite tourist destination. However, this trend has declined since the May of 2015 due to MERS. Now Japan has replaced South Korea in this regard, and many Chinese people travel over there now.
Surprisingly, the number of tourists going to HongKong has declined by 50% because of the strikes going on against the mainland shoppers. This kind of factors affects a lot on this outbound tourism market because there were thousands of traveling agents all over the China who earning was based on outbound tours to Hong Kong.
When it comes to Europe, Germany is the most favorite destination for the Chinese tourists. The simple reason behind it is that Germany has very simple visa policies as compared to the rest of the European countries. Germany is such a popular tourist destination for them that the amount of tourists visiting Germany was 2 times more during the first half of 2015 as compared to the last half of 2014.
When it comes to honeymooning or going to a romantic place, Indonesia, Switzerland, France and Italy are the go to places. It is may be due to the media in China because Chinese media usually glamorize these places too much through its songs, movies, and dramas. There are dozens of traveling agent only in Shanghai who arrange for group tours to France and Italy at very reasonable rates.
How Much do the Chinese Travel during their Local Holidays?
While the Chinese love to travel the whole year round, the statistics become really different during their holidays. The outbound tourism activity grows by 10%, 30% and 37% during the respective festivals of the Chinese New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival and the May Day. Surprisingly a minor decrease of 5% was noticed during the Qingming Festivals.
The Popular Trends of the Chinese Outbound Tourism
For any country who wants to attract the Chinese tourists, it is very important to understand the things which attract them to a specific place. It is important to know the kind of places, hey like to visit, their favorite mode of transportation, how much money they like to send and the ratio of traveling according to the different age groups.
- They Look for Different Experiences
Whenever a tourist visits a new country, he wants to experience something different from his previous destination or even from his own country as well. This is the most popular reason why the Chinese love to travel. Their main way of looking for a suitable place is by searching through the internet. They look for tourist sites, restaurants, shopping activities as well as car rental services.
While some of the tourists like to organize their own trips while visiting a country, many of them look for tourist guides and rental care services on the internet and hire them for their stay.
- They Book their Trips Online
China has a very high percentage of internet users. There are almost 620 million Chinese who use the internet among which almost 80% are regular mobile users. The Chinese take full advantage of the technology and prefer using their mobile devices for booking a trip to any country which they want to visit. They book their tickets through their mobile phones, they get their hotel rooms like that as well. so much so, that any kind of deals which are going on regarding traveling and discounts on hotel rooms are searched for by the Chinese before deciding the airline they want to travel on and the hotel they would live in.
- The Social Media Influences their Trips
Social media has a very powerful following in China. This is highly evident from the fact that most of the tourists choose their destination based upon what is trending on the various popular Chinese social networks. Wechat and Weibo have become the favorite social medias among the Chinese, as they share the images of their trip with their friends who then get influenced by them. This has become an effective tool of marketing as the prospective tourists get attracted by the different shopping trends, restaurants, foods and other tourist attractions when deciding to visit a country.
When a social media user especially youngster with a fair amount of money see a beautiful place on the internet. He tries to visit there to that place to satisfy its curiosity and also to brag about it on social media. The tourism market is taking full advantage of this behavior of social media users. They have launched special advertising campaigns on various social media platforms of China. They post astoundingly attractive pictures of different exotic countries to induce the desire of traveling in youngsters. This type of marketing is working really fine for traveling agencies because now reputed traveling agencies have launched social media marketing campaigns in China to boost their business.
- They are Looking for More Travelling Destinations
While there was a time that Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan were the most popular tourist destinations, the trend has experienced a lot of change, especially with the growing up of the new generation. Thailand has become a very popular tourist destination because of its nice beaches and easy visa policies.
The US and China have recently made their visa requirements for each other’s tourists as well. Subsequently, a lot of outbound tourists are visiting the US as well. Sri Lanka, Australia, and New Zealand have also become popular tourist destinations generating a lot of revenue for the countries.
However, many Chinese tourists do go to some really unexpected places as well. The reason being simple: they like traveling but they like to experience a lot of different things as well. Usually, these tourists are more than 55 years of age, yet they also make a large part of the Chinese outbound tourism. In China, the age of 50 is not considered as very old age unlike other parts of the work because most Chinese people eat fresh food and take good care of their physical fitness. Although lots of cities in China are densely populated and polluted but remote areas and villages have still very high life expectancy.
Preferences of the Chinese for Outbound Tourism
The Chinese have some set preferences when it comes to outbound tourism. Based on these preferences the Chinese outbound tourism market can definitely grow with it. Traveling packages and facilities depends a lot on these preferences because the sale of a company depends on how much it satisfies the need of customers.
- They Like to Travel in Groups
This is especially true for those tourists who are visiting a place for the first time. Such groups like to visit popular tourist destinations like Barcelona and Venice. They like to stay together and for them taking photographs of each and every monument is a must. The number of single people in China is overwhelming but these singles people seldom go outside the China, therefore, most traveling agencies in china offer packages for couples and families. Tour for a single person also cost more than the tour for a family. The solution to this problem is the traveling in group. It allows single people to meet strangers and enjoy their tour at low cost without getting bored.
The only drawback of group tour is that tourists can’t select their own destinations. They have to follow the schedule of traveling agencies. Over protective parents usually suggest their kids to go in group tours because they are safe and traveling agencies take responsibility for the security of their customers. All these factors are making group tours very popular among Chinese tourists.
- They Possess Thorough Knowledge of their Holiday Spot
This is specifically true for the more seasoned travelers. Just as I have mentioned above, the Chinese love going to unusual places which are not common tourist spots. You will be amazed to see how much knowledge they possess about such places. It can be anything from a natural park to a restaurant situated in a far off area.
They come to know about their destinations mostly through the social media. The Chinese have a special fondness of the social networks where the most about their different experiences. The word of social media goes around quickly and people come to know about more places they should travel to, sights they must see and the restaurants they must eat in.
- The Chinese are Ardent UnionPay and Alipay Carriers
While many of them carry various American and European credit cards, UnionPay and Alipay are now getting recognized in those places where the Chinese tourism is the maximum.
- They like Serene Places
Due to a huge population, most of the urbanized Chinese cities experience the worst form of pollution ever. This is why many outbound tourists prefer going to such places where the level of noise is less and the air is fresh. This is a very strong reason why many Chinese people prefer to travel abroad as compared to within their own country. There are two types of serene places. The first type is the one with very few people like Iceland and New Zeeland. The population of these countries is very low therefore tourists can enjoy quiet time without disturbed by local people and other tourists. The second type of serene destination is the one which possesses a large number of people but contains calm places. Some European countries and few cities of Australia come under this category. Chinese tourists can visit beaches, resorts, and luxury hotels of these countries to enjoy intimate time with their loved ones and this is what they are doing these days.
- They Prefer Living in Good Hotels
For the Chinese, traveling is not just only about fun. They like to stay in hotels with a good standard. For them, the comfort level is extremely important. However, it does not mean that only the 5-star hotels benefit from this trend. Smaller hotels and motels with standardized rooms and good food are also in their good books. They find out about them through the internet and also make most of their bookings via it as well.
- Adventure is New Cool
It is the time of social media where everyone wants to get the attention of a maximum number of people. China has almost everything in it, therefore, Chinese people want to experience something different and unique. UAE offers something unique because you can enjoy skating in the scorching sun of June. There is a segment of Chinese tourists who like to visit those places which are not very common. The main purpose of these tourists is not to see those places but to get the sense that they have something different from others.
Many international tourism companies now understand the mindset of the Chinese tourists. This is why many of them advertise their services as well as their countries specialties while keeping the Chinese tourists in their minds. However, the latest is that there is a slight change in the Chinese outbound tourism trend.
The Devaluation of Yuan has Effected the Outbound Tourism
Recently, China has experienced a small setback in its tourism market, all because of the devaluation of its currency. The trend has decreased between 3 to 4% in the second half of 2016 as compared to the first half. This naturally has increased the cost of outbound tourism for the Chinese. However, the good news is that the percentage is so small that it is not going to be a big blow to the market. Also, experts believe that China will soon recover from it once the Yuan’s value will grow internationally.
Is the Devaluation of Yuan the Only Factor affecting Outbound Tourism?
However, the devaluation of the Yuan is not the only reason behind a decrease in outbound tourism. Terrorism is another factor the Chinese are also really concerned about. Due to the recent terrorist attacks in Germany and France, the Chinese are quite apprehensive about visiting Europe.
According to the many potential tourists, safety is a much more important factor than a mere devaluation of their country and the increased cost of tourism. Wang, a teacher and a mom, says that she always travels abroad during the summer vacations every year. However, this time her plans have changed, not just because of the increase in the expenditure but because she is worried about the safety of her family.
Why is Terrorism a Bigger Factor affecting Outbound Tourism to Europe than the Yuan?
No one goes on a vacation without pre-planning, especially not the Chinese. The devaluation of Yuan has although put a negative mark on the enthusiasm of the tourists, yet people are not much concerned about it. This thing can be explained simply. Most of the outbound tourists plan their destination, buy their tickets and get their reservations done at least two months prior to their planned vacation. This means that they have a budget decided and know where to cut their expenditure. So, basically your whole process of budgeting everything is in your hand and you can control it totally.
However, you cannot control terrorist attacks. This is something the Chinese are very particular about. So, while the first half of 2016 and many years before that saw a rise of Chinese tourists visiting Europe, the game has again become the other way round. Now, many Chinese people are again finding Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan as their go-to destinations. They are not only safe places to visit, but their currency value is also equal to that of Yuan.
Decline in the Rate of Outbound Tourism has become a Blessing in Disguise for the Local Tourism Industry
This has also come as a blessing in disguise for the Chinese economy. A lesser number of people going abroad to spend their vacations means that many of them are now exploring their own country. There is an increase of 10.5% in local tourism, with the hotels in Beijing and Shanghai having the maximum 4.8% and 11.7% increase in revenue in the month of June only.
Chinese Outbound Tourism is definitely on its rise. While it may be experiencing a temporary setback, yet there are many places the Chinese would love to go to. Even though Germany may have experienced a decrease in Chinese tourists, yet the same tourists are now inclining towards traveling to Iceland. If invested in properly, the destinations can still take maximum advantage of the Chinese outbound tourism market. So, overall Chinese outbound tourism market is expected to grow but traveling agencies have to offer their service after careful study of the market. Some destinations like Hong Kong are not going to as demanding as they were in past few years. On the other hand, some remote areas like ice land, New Zealand, and Australia has got the attention of Chinese tourists. They places can become red hot in next few years in this market. Nothing can be said with 100% surety but recent trends can help traveling agencies to devise the right strategy for their business.