China’s Outbound Travel Boom Propels ‘Destination City’ Growth

    From Asia to North America, Chinese travelers are shaping the rankings of the world's top cities for international visitor arrivals.
    Tokyo is among the world's fastest-growing tourism destinations, thanks in large part to Chinese tourists. (Shutterstock)
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Tokyo is among the world's fastest-growing tourism destinations, thanks in large part to Chinese tourists. (Shutterstock)

    As more than 100 million annual outbound Chinese tourists jet-set around the globe, they’re boosting the profile of cities across Asia and beyond as top international tourism destinations.

    According to MasterCard’s recently released study, the “2015 Global Destination Cities Index” that tracks international air arrivals in the world’s top travel hubs, Chinese visitors are shaping the global travel landscape as they generate massive amounts of revenue and raise the profile of Asian cities. The study finds that global tourism growth in these cities is huge, estimating that they will see a combined total of 382.9 million annual visitors who will spend US$360 billion in 2015.

    Since Asian destinations take up almost 90 percent of all Chinese international departures, their spending has landed several Asian cities on the list of the top global tourism destinations for number of international overnight visitors. The top 20 destination cities by international overnight visitors features eight from Asia, including Bangkok in second place overall.

    Out of the top 20 tourism destinations listed by the survey, the top four fastest-growing are all located in Asia, and include Taipei, Tokyo, Bangkok, and Seoul. The study notes that “for the four Asian cities, their strong growth in visitors has come mostly from the significant increase in outbound travel from China.” The fastest-growing cities are found in countries that rank among Chinese tourists’ most-visited destinations: South Korea was the third most popular destination for Chinese tourists after Hong Kong and Macau last year, followed by Thailand in fourth place and Japan in fifth place.

    These cities are also seeing significant growth in tourism spending as Chinese travelers flock abroad to shop. Bangkok saw the world’s fastest growth rate in terms of visitor spending between 2014 and 2015 with an increase of 11.8 percent. This growth came even as Thailand’s currency has depreciated against the U.S. dollar, meaning that “visitor spending has increased strongly enough to compensate for the effects of currency depreciation,” according to the report.

    The report also took a look at top destinations’ major “feeder cities,” or locations from which visitors arrived. Among the top Asian destination cities, Hong Kong was the number one feeder city for Bangkok and number three for Singapore, while Shanghai made Singapore’s list at number five.

    Chinese travelers are also boosting the status of North American destinations. Beijing was the number five “feeder city” for top North American city New York, with 430,000 arrivals who spent a total of $1.3 billion. Los Angeles, the next most popular in terms of international visitor arrivals, saw its third-biggest group coming in from Shanghai. The city saw 317,000 tourists arriving from Shanghai alone, and they spent a total of $896 million in the city.

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