The number of outbound trips has reached 130 million in 2017, up 7.0% from 122 million in 2016; an estimated USD 115.29 billion was spent, a year-on-year increase of 5%, according to the 2017 China Outbound Tourism Travel Report jointly released by Ctrip and China Tourism Academy.
According to statistics, Ctrip's tailor-made travel and local guide platform has served millions of tourists in 2017. Such personalized trips designed by Ctrip travel planners are becoming a popular option. Chinese travelers are becoming increasingly focused on their well-being and the purpose for making outbound trips has changed from sightseeing and shopping to enjoying high-quality services.
China remains the largest source of outbound tourists in the world
China has become the largest source of inbound tourists for many countries such as Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, Maldives, Indonesia, North Korea and South Africa.
In 2017, Thailand and Japan remained the two hottest destinations, attracting 9.8 million (28% of total inbound visitors) and 7.35 million (25.6% of total inbound visitors) tourists from the Chinese Mainland respectively.
In 2017, some dark horse destinations have attracted the attention of Chinese tourists. The top 10 popular destinations with the fastest growth in tourist numbers were Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Czech, Germany, Spain, the UAE, England, Netherlands and Iceland.
More flight connections, better exchange rate and fewer visa restrictions drive visitor numbers
With increasing disposable income, fewer visa restrictions, better exchange rates and more flight connections, the love for outbound travel still remains in China.
By the beginning of 2018, the number of countries and regions allowing Chinese citizens with ordinary passports to enter without a visa or with a visa on arrival (VOA) has increased to 66, among which 12 have signed mutual visa exemption agreement with China, 15 have allowed unilateral visa exemption and the other 39 have allowed unilateral VOA.
Females and those born in the 1970s and 1980s mainly drive the growth of FITs
Females were more eager to travel abroad than males. Based on the gender and age data, the report estimates that in 2019, 41% of outbound tourists will be males while 59% will be females, an increase of 18%.
According to the report, Chinese tourists still prefer group travels, especially travelers from second, third and fourth-tier cities and regions. However, independent outbound travels are becoming a trend. For example, among millions of outbound tourists organized by Ctrip, half select group tours and half go for independent tours.
Many make reservations through the online platform and find their own trip planner and local guide. Ctrip’s tailor-made travel and local guide platform has served millions of tourists in 2017, an annual increase of 220%.
Growing popularity of islands and tourist attractions
Chinese travelers pay close attention to air quality and natural environment when picking destinations. Islands with fresh air and bright sunshine are becoming increasingly popular. 30% of Chinese outbound tourists chose islands as their travel destination. According to vacation orders received by Ctrip, the 10 most popular islands in 2017 were Phuket, Bali, Nha Trang, Boracay, Sabah, Okinawa, Maldives, Krabi, Koh Samui, and Saipan.
Amusement parks are popular choices for parent-child trips. This is reflected in Ctrip’s outbound data which saw Hong Kong Disneyland and Universal Studios Singapore taking the first two places in the 2016 10 most popular points of interest list.
The age of “new first-tier cities”
According to data, the top 10 cities with the most per capita spending in 2017 were Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wenzhou, Shenyang, Changchun, Dalian, Qingdao, Guiyang and Jinan. Beijing ranked first with an average spending of RMB 6817. Shanghai, Suzhou and Wenzhou ranked second, third and fourth respectively.
The report lists the top 20 departure cities for Chinese outbound tourists in 2017. This list includes 16 new first-tier cities other than Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
New first-tier cities have seen great numbers in outbound travelers. In 2017, Chengdu surprisingly overtook Shenzhen and ranked third in the number of outbound tourists (an increase of 75%). Other cities such as Changsha (up by more than 200%) and Xi’an (up by more than 300%) were dark horses and have witnessed a surge in the number of outbound tourists.