China’s cashed-up tourists Europe bound


LONDON, 17 July 2018: More adventurous and cashed-up Chinese tourists are shunning regular package deals and demanding customised tours that deliver travel experiences.

The trend is shifting in the China outbound market to experience-driven tourism such as exclusive visits to film locations, Michelin-star restaurants, ancient sites off the beaten track and prestigious sporting events.

According to joint research by ForwardKeys and the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), China’s outbound bookings for this summer are ahead 13.5%.

The demand for customised travel showed a 300% growth in 2017 and this year there are currently more than 120,000 new orders a month, representing a market share of almost 15%.

Data from ForwardKeys, which predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million booking transactions a day, shows that China bookings for Europe are ahead 10.5% this summer.

Europe – and particularly the UK – are the destinations most favoured by the new customised travellers from China.

More Chinese travellers tend to be younger than the previous average cited by research. They are “money-rich and time-poor”. They are cashed up and prepared to pay more than average for the chance, for instance, to stay in a glass igloo in Finland or propose to their partner in front of the Eiffel Tower.

According to the Chinese travel services provider, Ctrip, it’s a sector in which expenditure is typically around USD400 per person per day, and spend is growing.

Until recently, mass-market package tour groups from China boosted a destination’s visitor numbers, but their spending was limited to visits to famous landmarks during the high season summer months. Ctrip says the trend is to make customised travel an “affordable luxury”, available to more Chinese.

COTRI founder Professor Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt said: “Europe is a perfect example of destinations that have great potential to fulfil the demand for customised travel from China, owing to its rich history and broad cultural diversity.

“Visas, entry tickets and transport can be difficult for individual travellers to arrange by themselves and even more so in the face of language barriers. The time difference and varied ways of communicating can present complications to those travellers who are making their own arrangements. Accordingly, there is a strong demand for travel professionals to provide extensive travel services.”

ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder, Olivier Jager, concluded: “There is a bright future for organisations involved in Chinse travel to Europe. As a long-haul destination, Europe has the largest market share of Chinese outbound travel, receiving 9.3% of the market. Over six million Chinese citizens visited Europe as their first stop in 2017; and our figures show more growth this year.”


  1. I strongly believe customized travels are also appealing to the affluent young Chinese for ASEAN countries.

    Perhaps, these groups demand a totally different kind of tour guides who are experts in the fields and not the general “run of the mill” type. Then, the laws may have to be changed according to the new trend such as Thailand’s rigid law that any tour guide MUST be a Thai citizen.

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