It’s no secret anymore that Chinese tourists, by their sheer numbers, now have the capability to make or mar the tourism industry. And, the trend of bigger paychecks, longer breaks and relaxed visa norms for citizens of the world’s second-largest economy, means this trend is not only here to stay but to grow as well, according a new report from CLSA.
The research firm surveyed 1,000 Chinese respondents to conclude that the number of tourists visiting other countries from mainland China will reach 200 million by 2020 -- double the 100 million who left China in 2013 -- and they will spend three times as much. The study found that nearly two-thirds of them wanted to travel overseas in the next year while two out of three planned to increase their travel budget.
“Explosive projected growth in outbound Greater China travel numbers offers immense opportunity for countries to benefit from Chinese tourists’ desire for new experiences - from sightseeing to food, to hotels, to gaming and shopping,” according to Aaron Fischer, head of consumer and gaming research at CLSA, and the report’s author. “Tourists will become increasingly savvy, independent and demand high quality experiences and service.”
According to the report, while local staples like Hong Kong and Macau will still figure at the top of the list for many, their appeal is expected to diminish and visitor numbers are expected to decline to 45 percent from the current 62 percent.
Survey respondents continued to list the usual suspects – the U.S. and France – as their dream destinations. The countries received 1.5 million and 1.3 million visitors from mainland China respectively in 2012, the largest number on record, according to the report.
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However, practical considerations such as the cost of long-distance air travel mean that Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, are the top destinations on respondents’ list in the next three years.
“While sightseeing, experiencing different cultures and relaxing are the top three reasons to travel; shopping remains an important component of the travel itinerary,” the report noted, adding that luxury goods continued to be the most sought-after international purchase for Chinese tourists.
Demand for luxury goods from China accounted for 31 percent of the market in 2012, and this number is expected to increase to 50 percent by 2020, CLSA estimates.
“Historical evidence in other Asian countries suggests that per-capita GDP growth beyond US$8,000 triggers explosive outbound travel,” the report notes, adding that China will have 1.2 billion people in this income bracket by 2020.
And, the industries that stand to gain from this burgeoning wanderlust, according to CLSA, will include “airlines, gaming, luxury goods, medical tourism, hotels, property and cruise ships,” and electronic commerce, as nearly half of all respondents plan to make their travel arrangements online.