2015 CHINA TOURISM ROUNDUP

2015 CHINA TOURISM ROUNDUP

23 June, 2015 - Uncategorised

Even with ever continuing growth, social and geo-political issues are having a huge impact on the travel plans of China’s growing number of middle-class and affluent international travellers. Even traditionally popular short-haul destinations are encountering challenges and some surprising destinations are growing at phenomenal rates despite obstacles. Here’s a roundup of some of what can be expected around the world this year:

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UK – Despite reforms and the recent announcement of a UK-Belgian/Schengen pilot scheme, the UK visa process still remains the primary hindrance for Chinese tourist visiting the UK. Last year the UK attracted around 196,000 tourists, a much lower growth rate than other European countries (9% growth verses the continents 20% average and global 17% average). Competition will be even tougher this year with visas becoming more accessible in the USA and a weaker Euro making continental Europe that much more attractive. The UK still as a long way to go to achieving its 600,000 annual target by 2020. However, the silver lining is that Chinese tourists continue to spend longer in the UK and spend more money per capita. Only 4% of Chinese visitors to Western Europe visited the UK, but they accounted for 18% of total nights stayed.

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Europe – Always a stalwart multi-country travel destination for long haul travellers. Popular countries such as France, Italy and Germany are seeing over 20% year on year growth in visitor numbers. France alone received 1.4m Chinese visitors last year. The current weak Euro is likely to attract an even bigger surge in numbers this year, with many more repeat visitors now venturing further afield to newer destinations such as Italy, Spain and even some of the Nordic countries.

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USA – Despite the recent visa system glitch, the overhaul of visa restrictions for Chinese citizens back in November 2014 led to an immediate 57% surge in Chinese outbound tourism to the US, which contributed to an overall annual growth rate of 20%. The same growth rate is expected this year and the country is expected to generate $60 billion worth of revenue from Chinese tourists.

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Hong Kong & Macau – Following last year’s pro-democracy demonstrations and growing anti-mainland sentiment many Mainland Chinese (who account for 86% of Hong Kong’s tourism) have shunned the S.A.R in favour of South Korea. This contributed to Hong Kong’s 3% annual decline in retail sales last year. With travel restrictions being imposed on Shenzhen residents and Chinese tourists becoming increasingly jittery about visiting Hong Kong this trend could see an even great retail decline this year, as high as 6%. Macau, previously a gambling playground for China’s elite has already been hit hard by the anti-corruption legislation and is having to rebrand itself to cater to lower price point middle class visitors.

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South Korea – After being claiming the title of number one holiday destination for Chinese visitors last year, the recent deaths caused by an outbreak of MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome) has brought back memories of China’s own SARS outbreak. This has led to 70% of tour bookings to South Korea over the summer being cancelled at the last minute. Only time will tell if South Korea can rebound during the fourth quarter holiday season, provided the MERS situation is resolved.

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Latin America – The surprising newcomer on the Chinese travel itinerary. In the last two years Latin American countries such as Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina has seen massive tourism growth from China, though from a much smaller base. Mexico alone has seen a 58% year on year growth to now having 75,000 Chinese tourists a year. This is all very impressive when one considers that there are actually no direct flights to Latin America from China.

To find out more about planning Chinese consumer engagement projects for 2015-16, please contact Steven Bywater. E-mail: s.bywater@wei-ukconsulting.com or give us a call on +44 (0)2036423899.