According to The World Tourism Organisation, China’s total outbound travelers rose 10% year-on-year to 128 million, while spending rose 25% y-o-y to US$292 billion. For the first three months of 2016, Chinese arrivals rose by 29% in Thailand, 47% in Singapore and 35% in Malaysia, indicating firm growth momentum.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is employing multi-pronged efforts to lure Chinese tourists. Thailand continues to be a role model for efforts in attracting tourists to its shores. This includes a) building quality attractions and promoting culture, b) relaxing visa requirements, and c) improving connectivity and infrastructure, i.e. its open-sky approach and improved airport capacity. Singapore, meanwhile, has a strong track record of coming up with new attractions, e.g. Integrated Resorts, Jewel Changi Airport, Mandai nature hub, etc. Most of the other ASEAN countries have adopted a number of such measures to attract more tourists.
ASEAN’s growing Chinese tourist numbers is a long-term secular trend. We believe that Chinese tourists travelling to ASEAN will continue to grow firmly in the medium to long term, driven by: 1) the growing middle class in China and the propensity to travel for leisure, 2) ASEAN’s attractiveness as a leisure destination and continued efforts by ASEAN governments to attract the Chinese tourist to their shores, and 3) the proliferation of Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) and spending on infrastructure to help drive and support such growth.