Focus on Chinese outbound tourism future trends
The numbers of Chinese tourists in the world is growing at an amazing pace. Approximately 135 million outbound trips have been ventured by Chinese travellers in 2016, a number set to grow rapidly, reaching 200 million outbound trips in 2020.
The size of the Chinese middle class has risen steadily with the rise in average income. Per capita GDP has increased by 148% in the last ten years: between 2003 and 2013 it grew at an average annual rate of 5.5%. Moreover, Oxford Economics predicts that by the year 2023 there will be another 61 million families who will be able to afford international travel by strengthening China’s role as the main market for international tourism.
The flow trend of the Chinese tourists is influenced by various factors including: long-distance monetary and time costs (this is why the destinations of the Schengen area are still a small segment of Chinese outbound tourism); the reduced number of days of leave available to Chinese workers; poor knowledge of European destinations, especially outside the main touristic cities; the availability of Chinese-friendly-facilities and the perception of safety (between October 2015 and March 2016, there was a contraction in the number of Chinese direct travellers in Europe, particularly in the central and southern areas, mainly due to concerns about security following the recent attacks that hit some European countries).
The Chinese tourism market is still largely based on organized tours. Only since 2013 self-organised tours have started developing, however this trend grows at 100% per year. This kind of travel is of particular interest to Europe and Italy more precisely, since on average this type of travellers stops for a greater number of nights, they have a greater propensity to spend, and are not induced by tour operators to make a “shopping stop” in France.
From the statistics, we can infer that there has been a change in the touristic trends since more and more people, mostly millennials, now search for destinations outside the classic itineraries, looking for exclusive experiences and trying to gasp the actual local lifestyle.
Online platforms are increasingly used by Chinese travellers to book the trip, or part of it, even directly via smartphones. For this reason, such platforms constitute the future of self-organised Chinese tourism. As a matter of fact, Chinese people make a large use social media even when they are travelling, to keep updated acquaintances and to show them the fantastic experience they are living. The increasingly importance of influencers must be really kept into consideration when dealing with Chinese tourists.
It is not a coincidence that the year 2018 has been declared the “China-Europe tourism year” as announced by the European Commission’s President, Jean Claude Junker. During the next period, we will be active spectators of a teeming activity, in the attempt to seize the moment starting new projects and activities. As an example, to capitalise on the China opportunity, many courtiers as Australia for example, are looking to roll out a 10 year visitor visa by end the of 2016 in order to simplify bureaucracy. Moreover, to achieve the goal of promoting the touristic and cultural offer aimed at the best hospitality and travel experience for Chinese tourists, a Welcome Chinese Certification has been created. It has been issued by the China Tourism Academy, the Chinese Tourism Ministry (CNTA) body responsible for the development of Chinese outbound tourism, in cooperation with China Central Television (CCTV), national television network, and China Union Pay (the only credit card circuit issued in China). The Welcome Chinese Certification is an exclusive standard that allows incoming tourism facilities to access a recognized network by allowing specific visitor visibility and competition from the market. Until now, the quality certification for Chinese tourists has been granted to 500 companies in the world, 321 of which in Europe and even 114 in Italy.
To conclude, everyone is rightly putting a lot of focus on the China market. However, what has been shown by the data is that the tourist-receptive system of many countries presents some elements of weakness in the reception of Chinese tourists: in particular, the shortage of Mandarin-speaking personnel, Chinese-language information on the Internet (increasingly used by Chinese to inquire about tourist sites) and personalized services (for example, water boiler or Chinese breakfast). There is still a long way to go, to fully understand this touristic trend and capture the most favourable opportunities.
“B-sm@rk is actively developing a project about Destination Personality in Ireland expressly focused on the Chinese tourist. The project is aiming to profile Ireland´s destination image from Chinese tourists’ point of view, targeting some tailored actions and optimization with regards to the customer experience for this audience of tourists in Ireland.”
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