As most people know, China is the most populated country in the world, the country’s position on the world’s stage has exploded in recent decades, making it a major player in all world events and while there are obvious political and economic implications to this growth, the impact extends to other areas as well. One of the most dramatic areas of growth has been in outbound tourism.
Currently, it is estimated that 100 million Chinese travelers venture beyond their borders, becoming active tourists around the world. While these numbers are impressive, the growth projections are even more staggering. CLSA, a CITIC investment and brokerage firm based out of Asia, predicts that outbound tourism in China will reach 200 million by the year 2020. This indicates that the numbers will double over a period of six years.
Along with the increase of outbound travelers, CLSA also predicts that tourist spending will rise at an even more impressive rate. As more millennial travelers seek to go abroad from China, the tourist spending numbers are expected to grow accordingly. In 2013, tourist spending was about RMB500 billion. By 2020, this number is expected to triple, reaching RMB1.4. The CLSA predictions are based on a survey of 1000 Chinese travelers across the country. In addition to showing a dramatic increase in outbound tourism by 2020, the CLSA survey also suggests where and how these outbound dollars will be spent.
The overwhelming majority of Chinese travelers currently visit other Asian countries, with Hong Kong and Macau being the most popular. However, many travelers are showing increased interest in more exotic destinations, which is likely to take Chinese travelers to other areas in Asia and around the world. In fact, places like Hong Kong and Macau are expected to see a decrease in Chinese tourism from 62 to 45 percent in the coming years. Destinations likely to see an increase are Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea. Other dream destinations for most Chinese travelers include France and the United States.
This upward shift is more than optimistic thinking. The fact is that Chinese economic growth supports such an increase. China’s GDP is poised to cross $8,000 per capita, which is often a tipping point for Asian countries. This means that more and more Chinese have ascended to the middle class, which affords them more expendable income to plan outbound vacations. On top of increased spending money, Chinese society is evolving to better meet the demands of a thriving middle class. More Chinese employers now grant annual leave, and as China becomes a major player in world markets, more countries are easing visa restrictions against Chinese travelers.
This overall shift is likely to have a palpable impact on tourism industries worldwide. Tourist hot spots should take note and consider how best to appeal to Chinese millennial travelers in order to benefit from this unprecedented growth.