China's booming outbound tourism industry | Asia Pacific

China's booming outbound tourism industry

China's booming outbound tourism industry

Updated 20 January 2014, 13:50 AEDT

China's growing wealth has made a huge impact on the global travel industry.

Unlike in the past, Chinese tourists are now highly visible in the world's popular city destinations.

Rising prosperity on the Chinese mainland also means more people can afford the foreign currency to travel abroad.

Correspondent: Shivali Nayak

Speakers: John Kester from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation; Pierre Gervois, tourism specialist, China Elite Focus; Jens Thraenhart, co-founder, Dragon Trail Interactive

NAYAK: When it comes to tourism, China seems to be making headlines all the time.

Two years ago, Chinese tourists became the world's top international tourism spenders.

And in two years' time, 100 million Chinese will become global travellers according to John Kester from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

KESTER: Chinese economy has been growing very fast, with that you do see growth of urbanisation and we do see growth of disposal income of Chinese people has quite increased . When we saw for instance that the gross domestic product per capita in 2000, was below 100 US dollars per Chinese, in 2012, it has gone up to 6000. So it's more than six fold in a bit more than a decade. That already shows that prosperity of Chinese has quite grown.

NAYAK: Chinese outbound tourism expert Pierre Gervois from China Elite Focus says a new trend is emerging among Chinese travellers.

GERVOIS:Now most of Chinese tourists don't want to travel in groups anymore. They want to take the time to choose carefully their destination, to choose carefully their hotel, to choose the shopping program they will have, and they want to do it by themselves, searching on the web.

NAYAK:These are often younger, more affluent travellers who have already taken their first trip overseas, are now more keen to explore countries and understand cultures.

GERVOIS:Five years ago, that was the main reason for travelling, doing shopping. But now, since two years, three years ago, we see that more Chinese tourists want to discover the culture. For example, in the United States, we have seen more and more Chinese visitors coming to have horse riding experience in the American west. In Australia or in New Zealand, Chinese tourists come to do some sport, to have an active lifestyle.

NAYAK:And the online world is playing a key role in influencing these travellers.

Jens Thraenhart is the co-founder of Dragon Trail Interactive. His company tracks content shared by Chinese tourists on social media.

THRAENHART: When any chinese tourist, even if it's an individual traveller or a tour group, is looking to go anywhere, they would go online and even if it is looking at the destination or the hotel or the attraction websites, or looking at social media, what have other people have experienced.

NAYAK:Home to the most number of billionaires in Asia, China is also contributing to another sector - the luxury travel market.

THRAENHART: Rich Chinese tourists, they are likely to own three cars and four watches. y I mean when we look at surveys, the favourite hotel chain is Shangri La when they stay at hotels, when they shop the favourite brands that they look at are high end French brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier and so on so that's not going away. People are getting a little bit more niche as well where they are looking to explore other high end brands as well.

NAYAK:And shopping remains an important activity for many, according to Pierre Gervois from China Elite Focus.

GERVOIS:Shopping is an important part of the trip because luxury stores in China sell luxury goods at a higher price point than you can find luxury products in Western countries or in duty-free stores.

NAYAK:Travel experts say destinations such as Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand remain favourites, while Australia, New Zealand and the United States are also popular with Chinese travellers.

But with growing incomes, Chinese tourists could be keen to explore new regions such as South America and Africa.

John Kester from the Madrid-based UN World Tourism Organisation says it will be years before China becomes a mature market for travel, signalling that the Asian giant's potential has yet to be fully realised.

KESTER: In 2013, for the first 9 months, Chinese outbound spend was still one of the fastest growing in the world. So having become the number one outbound market in 2012, with 102 billion US dollars, in 2013, for the first 9 months, they spent another 28 per cent more. So we will have, if the trend continues for the last quarter of the year, we will have another 28 billion US spent this year. That's a growth rate that's really exceptional.

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