With the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute projecting upwards of 400 million overseas trips by 2030, China’s booming outbound sector will continue to dynamically reshape the industry, both around the region and further afield, in the decade ahead.
Chinese nationals are the dominant outbound demographic in both eastern and southern Asia. With 67% of overseas trips concentrated in the region, Chinese tourists play a major role in sustaining the sector — from South Korea and Japan, to Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines.
In 2018 it is estimated that Chinese outbound tourists averaged $5715 in overall travel expenditure. In terms of on-location expenditure, Chinese travellers spent the most in long-haul destinations such as US ($4462) and Australia ($3541). By contrast, the average on-location spend by Chinese travellers to Thailand was $2026.
Unlike their non-Chinese contemporaries, Chinese tourists are less price-sensitive when planning trips overseas. However, one major point of concern for Chinese travellers concerns the relative weakness of the PRC passport; according to rankings from Passport Index, China scores poorly in comparison to many regional counterparts on its total visa-free score, in 75th position.
Around South-east Asia, China’s growing presence is arguably being felt more acutely than any other region in the world. Cultural and linguistic familiarity, coupled with lower travel costs and geographic proximity, helps explain the popularity of the region among Chinese travellers. In Thailand, where the tourism industry accounts for over 20% of the kingdom’s overall GDP, Chinese have rapidly supplanted other nationalities as the largest single group of foreign visitors. In 2017 roughly 9.8 million Chinese – representing 25% of overseas visitors – entered Thailand, up from 2.7 million in 2012.
The number of Chinese heading for the Indonesian archipelago has also grown exponentially in recent years, multiplying 16-fold over the past decade to overtake Singapore as the single largest source of foreign travellers in 2017. With plans for Indonesia’s tourism sector to occupy 20% of the overall economy and draw in over 20 million visitors by 2020, attracting a greater share of China’s rapidly growing middle class is vital to Indonesia’s ambitions for further development.
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