In the first nine months of 2016, a total of 101.5 million border-crossings from Mainland China took place, the first time that the 100 million number was achieved within the first three quarters of a year.
While 49.8 million — fewer than half of the total number — stayed within Greater China (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), the remaining 51.7 million trips were to destinations further afield. Compared to the third quarter of 2015, this represents an increase of only 3.3%, which, however, is split into a negative rate of -6.2% for Greater China and a still respectable 14.5% for the rest of the world.
The new Chinese outbound tourism statistics are based on the research results of COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute. Compared to the figures from the first half of 2016, the decrease in Greater China has slowed from -7% to -6.2%, but so too has the growth rate for the rest of the world, which has slipped from 16.6% to 14.5%.
Focusing on the third quarter of 2016 alone, out of the 37.5 million (+4.4% YoY) total border-crossings from China, 20 million (+14.1% YoY) trips went beyond Greater China, while 17.5 million (-5.1% YoY) were to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The overall global growth rate of China’s outbound tourism improved after the 2.4% and 4.3% figures recorded in the first and second quarters of the year respectively, to reach a slightly-improved 4.4% by the third quarter of 2016.
Among the major destinations for Chinese travellers, South Korea (+85% YoY) and Vietnam (+75% YoY) recorded the biggest increases in the third quarter of 2016, while Japan was unable to maintain the triple-digit growth rates seen in 2015, instead recording a more modest increase of +16% YoY.
With a YoY decrease in arrivals of -28%, Taiwan saw the biggest drop among major destinations in Asia, a direct result of the restrictions placed by the Beijing government on the arrangement of organised travel groups.
In Europe, all of the continent’s major destinations suffered heavy losses, with not only France and Germany, but also Spain, Switzerland and Italy reporting double-digit numbers in the red. On the other hand, smaller countries like Croatia, Iceland, Poland and Norway all enjoyed more than 20% growth in arrival numbers from China. Safety concerns resulted also in increases in trips to Australia and New Zealand and even more so to the USA.
Commenting on the latest results, COTRI director Prof. Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt, said: “Our forecast that 2016 will be the first year to see more than half of all Chinese outbound trips going beyond Greater China seems to be holding up. The anxiety over possible terrorist attacks or disruptions caused by refugee movements has not resulted in Chinese travellers staying closer to home, but rather choosing new destinations perceived as less dangerous and more interesting. The massive downturn in arrival numbers to Hong Kong and Taiwan are more to do with political friction than a decrease in the demand for travel.”