The number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad has risen from 10 to 83 million in just 10 years and may reach more than 100 million in 2014, becoming the first country in the world in terms of travelers and overtaking the USA and Germany for the first time, declared the China National Tourism Administration.
This number is expected to increase at an average annual growth rate of 10% until 2020, according to Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for Asia Pacific in IHS Global Insight. This growth is due to efforts undertaken by China’s government to allow a larger number of Chinese people to benefit from China’s economic development.
Many Chinese have begun to travel abroad in recent years. Chinese people consider travels as “entertainment”, “pleasure” and relaxing experience.
Most Chinese will select a package organized by a travel agency to avoid potential problems in a place that is unknown to them. They are curious but remaining cautious. They spend an hour or two at the selected location to take pictures and listen to the guide, then hurry to leave for their next destination.
In more and more countries, Chinese tourists are the biggest spenders, as confirmed by experts. About 87% of the total expenditure of the average Chinese traveller are devoted to fashion items such as shoes and handbags, and 93 % of purchases are made in and around the French capital.
This craze for shopping is due to two main factors: a booming economy in China, and a price differential of the taxation of luxury goods in China.
In France, Chinese tourists spend on average 40% of their budget once there in shopping. Expenditure exploded with a 40%-increase between 2011 and 2012, thanks to a more favorable exchange rate and higher wages.
By 2030, expenditure is expected to increase from 260 billion to 1.800 billion dollars.
Chinese people rarely travel alone, but rather with family or friends. The pleasure of being in a group is one of their main pleasures when they travel. Nowadays, there is still a majority of Chinese people who prefer traveling in a group (55%).
However, for some time, the opposite trend is observed: more and more Chinese people are tempted to travel alone. Independent travelers rate is expected to increase from 30 to 70% of the total Chinese tourists number this year, creating a huge demand for various services in tourism.
Young, rich and educated Chinese people increasingly want to travel alone, in their own way.
A lot of China’s leading tourism service providers like Travelzoo, Ctrip and Qunar have already launched personalized services, daily access passes to visit a city, discounts on airline tickets, hotel stays or reductions to eat at the restaurant and so on and so forth, and new products in order to develop the upward trend of Chinese people traveling alone.
Below are top destinations for Chinese tourists
Australia, France and New Zealand are the leading destinations for Chinese tourists today. However, reality is not the same.
Chinese tourists are more used to travel to destinations which are closer, like Thailand, Japan, Malaysia or South Korea.
However,France still attracts Chinese tourists
France, the world’s leading tourist destination, with almost 82 million foreign tourists in 2012, continues to attract more Chinese tourists and remains one of their favorite destinations, especially Paris.
Why do Chinese tourists like France so much? Thanks to its cultural wealth and diversity. France is well-known in China: French companies have been located in China for a long time; its gastronomy and its history are renowned.
However, only 1.4 million Chinese tourists (80 million total) visited France in 2011, in accordance with the statistics of the INSEE.
A factor for economic growth and for support of domestic demand in France
The arrival of this new type of client is a windfall for France and a good way to support economic growth and domestic demand. “Tourism is a huge economic driver to encourage an economic growth based on domestic demand”, declared José-Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.
Actually, France is the world’s leading tourist destination but is only in 3rd place in terms of gains, just behind the United States and Spain , according to World Tourism Organisation. That is the reason why welcoming tourists famous for being big spenders is crucial for France.
The arrival of this new type of client raises problems: major tourist sites in France are already saturated with visitors from all over the world. Therefore, welcoming Chinese tourists is a challenge which requires adaptation, adjustment and reorganization.
The issue is a major one because, even if French competitive advantages are obvious, Chinese tourists must have value for money. However, France is usually part of tourism packages which organize a roundtrip in Europe. France must preserve Chinese’s interest for Paris, Loire castles, Mont St Michel, which are already saturated and may be discouraging.
The problem isn’t with accommodation and hotel offering, but rather with France’s industrial policy. It is necessary to set up a real industrial policy to respond to market needs. It is obviously impossible to enlarge national historic and touristic monuments. France should focus its efforts on management of tourism flows, opening hours and quality of tourist guides.
Air transport sector also requires adaptation. Some airlines have realized it: for instance, in view of the fact that Chinese tourists spend a lot and hate being limited in shopping, Emirates Airline has increased the weight limit of luggage.
There are many investments to do in tourism infrastructure, but these investments will be difficult to finance in the current budgetary context, according to a member of the tourism Bureau.