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10 keys to understanding the awakening of Chinese tourism


China is a giant, and since waking up it has left its mark on the tourism sector. The increase in per capita income, greater flexibility in visas and greater connectivity with flights throughout the country has made China the largest tourist origin country in the world. 

Taking a look at information from last year, a total of 149.7 million people residing in China made trips abroad in 2018. Looking at that number we must also bear in mind that only 10% of the Chinese population currently hold a passport. If the forecasts are correct, there will be 250 million Chinese with a passport in 2025, which means that international travels made by this segment of the market could reach 220 million per year, according to Goldman Sachs.

It is a more than attractive market for all those who work in the European tourism sector. However, the Asian market still holds mysteries for many. How do Chinese tourists travel? What destinations do they prefer? What kind of hotels do they choose? How many nights do they usually stay? When do they book their holidays? 
At TravelgateX we are fortunate to be working closely with some of the main operators on the Asian tourist market, like our partner Ctrip – the largest travel service provider in China – and we are able to explain some of these unknown factors, as revealed below:

1.- There is nowhere like Asia
Chinese tourists usually stay on their own continent (two-thirds of the tourists chose Asia as their destination last year), and they prefer countries such as Thailand, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and the Maldives. 

2.- Europe at the head
Looking at Chinese tourists who travel outside Asia, Europe has the lead with 38%, followed by the United States (25%), Australia and New Zealand (20%).

3.- Spain getting more and more popular
According to information from our partner CTrip.com, Spain stands out as one of the fastest growing markets among the European destinations that receive Chinese tourists. It is the fourth preferred destination after France, Italy and the UK. In this sense, the numbers from INE show a clear upward trend: in 2017 514,777 tourists travelled to Spain (38% more than in 2016) and 2018 saw 597,064 Chinese visitors.

4.- They spend (and a lot)
The number of Chinese travellers might be high, but the spending figures for these tourists is also 2.3 times higher than that of other nationalities. In Spain, for example, each Chinese tourist on average spent about 2,530 euros, the equivalent of around 281 euros per day.

5.- Staying for longer
They spend more and they stay for longer. The average stay of a Chinese tourist ranges from 2 to 5 nights, and they usually cover several destinations on the same trip, taking the opportunity to visit at least 2–3 European cities.

8.- They are city dwellers
Chinese tourists like to keep it simple. They like safety and simplicity and prefer everything to be comfortable and at hand. That is why they prefer urban hotels in the center, surrounded by services and well-connected to the main points of interest.

7.- Luxury, technology, and service
They like luxury and high-quality accommodation, so Chinese travellers generally look for 4- and 5-star hotels where they get extra services, where the culture of the destination can be seen but with small nods to their own culture, especially when it comes to the culinary aspect.

8.- One month in advance
In the Asia 2019 Travel Report prepared by Insights-X of TravelgateX – our tool for Business Intelligence related to tourism – it is pointed out that Chinese tourism is not that farsighted. The British book nearly 3 months (or more) in advance, but the Chinese book a mere month in advance. And when they book, the Internet is a priority channel.

9.- They are ‘Millenials’
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO), the population segment with the greatest growth potential for Chinese outbound tourism are the Millennials (born in the 1980s), who like to share their experiences on social networks whilst travelling. They also like shopping at the destination and feel that their holidays are life experiences.

10.- Leisure and non-business trips

As for what brings them to countries like Spain, almost 90% travel for leisure and enjoyment, with only 10% visiting the country for business.

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