Chinese Tourists Took 57.39 Million Trips Last Year, Spent Record US$48 Billion
One year after overtaking French travelers to account for the world’s fourth largest spending on international tourism, outbound Chinese tourists continue to head overseas (and spend) in record numbers. According to World Tourism Organization estimates, international Chinese tourists — led by the country’s burgeoning middle class — should number 100 million by 2020, up from only 31 million in 2005. As the UN organization added in a study last year, China has recorded growth of around 22 percent per year in overseas trips, making it the world’s fastest-growing market in terms of expenditure on overseas travel for the last decade. This growth has made mainland Chinese tourists among the most coveted international tourist demographics in major destinations like Australia — which expects a $9 billion windfall from these travelers per year by 2020 — as well as New York, London and Paris, where individual travelers and tour groups currently contribute millions per year to the local economy.
At a recent tourism exhibition in Kunming, southwest China, Chinese tourism industry experts noted the scale of the outbound market as well as the domestic travel market. As professor Dai Bin of the China Tourism Research Institute told attendees, “We expect people to take 2.5 billion trips domestically in 2011, and expect outbound tourists to exceed 65 million. Total spending on tourism this year will reach a record high of two trillion yuan (US$315 billion).” Dai added that the global business travel market has, in the last year, grown to about US$1 trillion. If China maintains its current 11.8 percent average annual growth in business travel, Dai noted, by 2015 China is expected to become the world’s largest single market for that segment.
Via JRJ (translation by Jing Daily team):
In 2001, as Wang Xinlei started his first job, he dreamed about spending his money on overseas travel. “At that time the most popular [trip] was the Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand circuit, which cost around 10,000 yuan, and traveling to Japan cost way more than that. I definitely couldn’t afford it.” After China joined the WTO in 2001, however, prices for outbound tourism dropped, and exit procedures were simplified. “Now you can travel to Southeast Asia or Japan for only four or five thousand yuan,” Wang noted.
Working-class tourists like Wang are an important force in promoting the development of the Chinese outbound tourism market.
According to statistics, in 2000, before its accession to the WTO, Chinese outbound tourists only numbered around 10.4 million, a figure that had increased by about 4.5 times by 2010, reaching 57.4 million passengers. By 2010, outbound tourism spending reached a record high of US$48 billion.
Pushed by factors like an appreciating yuan, Chinese outbound passengers are expected to number around 70 million this year, with spending projected to reach a new high of US$55 billion.
Currently, China is Asia’s largest outbound tourism market, with Chinese tourists having gone to some 141 countries and regions, 110 of which have officially implemented opening-up procedures.
The upcoming Spring Festival Golden week is also the most popular outbound travel season. Interestingly enough, as reporters learned from a number of travel agencies, going overseas only for entertainment and shopping is no longer the primary goal of outbound travelers, but rather is being supplanted by tourism focusing on cultural experiences and leisure.
If this last observation really is true, it seems that staff at luxury boutiques shouldn’t be the only ones taking Mandarin lessons.