China travel trends shifted in 2018

BANGKOK, 8 March 2019: Destinations outside of ‘Greater China’ that have seen consistent growth in Chinese tourist arrivals in the past would be wise to brace themselves for a softening in China’s outbound travel market, according to research by COTRI Analytics

The research pointed out that, while border crossings from Mainland China increased in the last quarter of 2018 by 7%, the growth only benefitted the destinations of “Greater China”.

The rest of the world had to make do for the first time with fewer Chinese tourists in the last quarter of 2018 when compared with 2017.

COTRI ANALYTICS, a division of the German-based China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, published the latest statistics in February.

The data showed that 56% or 22.5 million of the 40 million outbound trips from Mainland China in the last quarter of 2018 ended in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, territories referred to as “Greater China”.

Only 44% or 17.5 million trips, involved Chinese travellers visiting destinations further afield.

In 2017, trips to Greater China territories and trips to the rest of the world balanced each other 50-50, while previously the ratio favoured longer travels.

The last quarter of 2018 included the National Golden Week in October, one of the main travel seasons in China.

Especially the Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macau managed, to add 5 million arrivals from China in the last quarter within the last two years, whereas the rest of the world lost 1 million arrivals in the same period.

China is the world’s biggest international tourism source market, and for most destinations in East Asia and Oceania, it tops the supply chain.

Different destinations have been hit in different ways by the slump. Many traditional destinations like Australia, Germany and Thailand saw little growth, or even decline. Others enjoyed growing arrivals and increasing market share, especially Nepal, South Korea and Cambodia in Asia and smaller destinations like Serbia, Croatia and Spain in Europe as well as Canada.

COTRI Prof director Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt said: “Chinese are still travelling abroad in growing numbers, but the lower end of the market has become a little bit more cautious, choosing destinations close by, including Hong Kong and Macau, whereas the upper end of the market is looking for more authentic experiences in new destinations.

“Simplified visa regulations, increased numbers of direct air connections and the new road and rail links between Hong Kong, Macau and China support this new travel pattern. Long-distance destinations will have to increase their efforts to attract Chinese visitors.”

COTRI ANALYTICS provides detailed statistical information for the 80 of the most important destinations for Chinese outbound travellers.

(Source: COTRI ANALYTICS).

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