Chinese arrivals to Europe increased 5.1% in 2018 despite the relative slowdown in the Chinese economy and concerns over Brexit, according to the latest figures from the European Travel Commission (ETC) and air travel analyst ForwardKeys.
Europe continues to be the top destination for Chinese travelers, according to ForwardKeys, which monitors 17 million flight bookings a day.
The top three EU destinations in terms of volume of Chinese arrivals were the UK (+2.4%), Germany (+2.6%) and France (+7.7%). The three fastest-growing destinations were Croatia (+45.7%), Estonia (+35.8%) and Hungary (+25.1%).
Forward booking numbers from Forwardkeys are robust. As of 31 December 2018, Chinese bookings to the EU for the first four months of 2019 are 16.9% ahead of where they were at the end of 2017, comparing favorably to the global trend, which is 9.3% ahead.
Forwardkeys noted if data from the UK was excluded in the context of Brexit, the performance of the EU would look even stronger, with arrivals in 2018 up +5.8%, as opposed to +5.1% with the UK included. Similarly, looking ahead, forward bookings are 17.7% ahead for the period January-April 2019, as opposed to 16.9% with the UK included.
Chinese departures from mainland China were up 5.2% during 2018, and bookings are 16.7% ahead for January-April 2019. Hong Kong and Macau forward bookings are up 7.6% for 2018, and ahead 35.4% for the first four months of 2019. Tier-two cities, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Xiamen, are showing strong growth: up 18.1% for 2018, with bookings ahead 51.3% for January-April 2019.
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