The boom in Chinese outbound travel is set to keep on going, according to data from ForwardKeys, which helps forecast future travel by analyzing around 17 million flight booking transactions a day.
Where the Chinese decide to visit can be strongly influenced by geopolitical events. The stationing of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea so displeased Beijing that Chinese tourists were encouraged to boycott South Korea, and in the year to April 1, 2017, visitor arrivals fell by 67%. This resulted in a boom in visitation to other “Asean” destinations as the Chinese went there instead. Vietnam saw a 50% increase in Chinese tourists, Malaysia 43%, Thailand 11% and Singapore 6%.
The terrorist attack in France in November 2015 so spooked the Chinese that in the three weeks following it, bookings plunged 72%. At that time Russia and Vietnam were major beneficiaries of the tourism displacement, with bookings for Russia increasing 398% and bookings for Vietnam 58%.
In the calendar year to date, Chinese enthusiasm for the USA has fallen noticeably too; visitor arrivals are 10% down. However, its neighbors in North America have benefitted substantially, with arrivals in Canada up 54% and Mexico up 29%.
Laurens van den Oever, ForwardKeys’ Chief Marketing Officer, concluded: “At the moment, we are seeing very strong growth in outbound tourism from China and there are no signs of that trend slowing. What we do see however is that Chinese tourists are hyper sensitive to bad news – if a destination’s image becomes tarnished they are swift to go elsewhere”.
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