200 Million Chinese Travelers Expected by 2020

The Chinese penchant for international travel continues to grow at a record rate, impacting the visa policies of countries around the world that want attract these travelers flush with cash.

According to a new report from ForwardKeys, bookings among Chinese nationals for outbound travel during the upcoming Chinese New Year (which is in February) are currently 40 percent ahead of where they were during the same time last year.

A variety of countries are benefitting from the rising tide of Chinese travelers. Those countries leading the pack in increased bookings from Chinese travelers include:

—Thailand: 47 percent ahead of last year

—Vietnam: 40 percent ahead of last year

—France: 31 percent ahead of last year

—Singapore: 28 percent ahead of last year

—Japan: 27 percent ahead of last year

—Canada: 23 percent ahead of last year

The growth of international travelers from China is not a new story, it has been taking shape for several years now. But according to the new ForwardKeys report, it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

In fact, according to the Chinese National Tourism Administration (CNTA) outbound travel has grown a staggering 270 percent since 2008 and the organization forecasts it will reach 200 million departures by 2020.

During the same time, expenditures by Chinese tourists has grown even more significantly – up 730 percent since 2008.

The management consultancy McKinsey estimates that Chinese spending on luxury goods has been growing at nine percent per year, while the average growth for the rest of the world is around three percent per year.

Chinese nationals are flush with cash and happy to spend it traveling.

In light of such numbers, countries around the world are reshaping their visa policies to encourage visits from Chinese travelers.

Since 2014, more than one dozen countries have changed their visa rules to attract Chinese visitors and the impact has been dramatic. According to the report, in the six months following the relaxation of visa requirements, arrivals in Morocco increased 378 percent.

Other notable increases included Moldova, up 253 percent; Tunisia, up 240 percent; Serbia up 180 percent and Isreal up 57 percent.

The United States is not among the top in any of the measures in the ForwardKeys report.

The decisions of Chinese travelers regarding where they will visit is often strongly influenced by geopolitical events, said the report. For instance, the stationing of a missile defense system in South Korea so displeased Beijing that Chinese tourists were encouraged to boycott the country. As a result, through April 1, 2017, arrivals to the country by Chinese visitors fell 67 percent.

The November 2015 terrorist attack in France so greatly disturbed Chinese travelers that in the three weeks afterward, bookings dropped 72 percent.

Chinese enthusiasm for the United States has dropped noticeably, according to ForwardKeys, with bookings down 10 percent. Our neighbors to the north and south have benefitted substantially from that change in attitude

Arrivals in Canada are up 54 percent and in Mexico, they are up 29 percent.

“At the moment, we are seeing very strong growth in outbound tourism from China and there are no signs of that trend slowing,” said Laurens van den Oever, ForwardKeys’ chief marketing officer. “What we do see, however, is that Chinese tourists are hypersensitive to bad news–if a destination’s image becomes tarnished they are swift to go elsewhere.”

Travel Pulse



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