The number of Chinese outbound travelers expanded considerably over the past two decades, and China was also the largest contributor to the global tourism industry by expenditures before COVID-19 emerged in early 2020.
Statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS) revealed that the total number of outbound trips grew steadily from 57.4 million in 2010 to 169 million in 2019. While the NBS does not publish data for 2020, the China Tourism Academy (CTA) estimates the number of outbound trips dropped to 20.2 million in 2020 due to COVID-19. A similar crisis, the SARS epidemic in 2003, however, did not cause a similarly severe impact on Chinese outbound travelers at that time. The comparable figure reached 20.2million in 2003 with a 22% growth over the previous year given a much shorter duration limited to several months, rather than years.
Total outbound trips reached 169 million in 2019 at a 4% year-on-year growth. Trips to Asia accounted for more than 90% of the outbound trips, of which Greater China (“GC”), including Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan made up approximately 60% of the total or 100 million trips in 2019.
The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) suggested that Chinese outbound tourism would surpass its record number of 180 million reached in 2019 by 2023 providing an optimistic outlook in their latest forecast from June 2021. In turn, in September 2022 Bernstein Research projected the number of total outbound trips would surpass 200 million in 2023 and 365 million by 2030; whereby the growing number of Chinese outbound travelers would stimulate hotel room night demand accordingly.
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