2014 is the year which will see the Chinese international tourism source market crossing the 10% hurdle. In other words: One out of ten international border-crossings this year will originate in Mainland China.
For the first half of 2014 the ratio between global and Chinese trips rose already to 517 million compared to 54 million, representing a share for China of almost 10.5%. The strong Northern summer travel activities will have pushed the ratio down a bit according to forecast by COTRI based on UNWTO and Chinese statistics to about 880 million compared to 85 million for the period January to September, a share of 9.7%. For the whole year the UNWTO forecast of between 1,130 and 1,136 international trips and the various forecasts of between 112 to 115 million Chinese outbound border-crossings would result in a Chinese share between 9.8% and 10.1%, after just 9.0% in 2013. Or, to put it into another perspective, about 1/3 of the total global increase in the number of international trips in 2014 is due to the increase in the number of Chinese outbound trips. Without China, the long-term growth forecast of UNWTO for the current decade of 3.8% p.a. would have been missed.
Not only is the number of Chinese outbound travelers still growing by about 17% per year, spending is growing by a similar percentage, representing in the first nine months of 2014 alone a total expenditure of about 115 billion US$. This impressive figure however might still be disappointing to tourism service providers and retailers, who saw the expenditure in past years rising even faster than the number of travelers. What they witness may partly be just the negative side of a statistical delusion: A shift at the upper end of the market from buying uber-expensive watches to buying real estate will result in the latter kind of “shopping” not being recorded any longer as travel expenditure, even though the amount of money moving with the travelers out of China is actually increasing. Jewellery does not buy residence permits, whereas investment in many countries including not only Caribbean island states but also EU member countries comes with the promise of a “Golden Visa” or even outright passports.