Chinese outbound tourism may slow but will still boost retail and hotel sectors across Asia

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 April, 2016, 7:39pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 April, 2016, 7:39pm

The growth of Chinese nationals travelling overseas will slow after hitting record highs last year but rising tides of outbound tourists from the country will continue to boost retail and hotel sectors across the world, particularly in Asia, say property consultants.

Since first crossing the 100 million milestone in 2014, the number of Chinese going overseas hit a high of 109 million in 2015, according to market research company GfK. The resultant tourist dollars amounted to an estimated US$229 billion of retail spend.

Cruise ships packed with Chinese tourists pour into Japan

Mandy Li, senior vice-president of JLL’s China Hotels & Hospitality Group, said she expects the growth rate of overseas travellers to moderate but added that she does not expect a downturn in outbound Chinese tourism anytime soon.

Li expects Asia to be benefit the most from the growth in Chinese tourist numbers. Although more and more Chinese are visiting Europe and North America, Li said she believes Chinese tourists prefer Asian destinations because of proximity, lower travel expenses and the region’s cultural and economic ties with China.

South Korea and Thailand are the top destinations for Chinese nationals, with Hong Kong in the third place, followed by Japan and Taiwan, according to GfK.

Malaysia to grant visa exemption for Chinese tourists to boost tourism

Li said many Chinese now live and work in Asian countries, giving them more of a “cultural sense of intimacy” with Asian destinations.

Seoul is a popular destination in part because luxury goods are cheaper in South Korea than in China, while Thailand has seen a surge in the number of Chinese tourists – from 2.7 million in 2012 to an estimated 8 million last year. Chinese tourists spent more than any other nationality – 190 billion baht – in the first half of 2015, according to Thailand’s tourism authority.

Chinese tourists flock to Sri Lanka despite strained ties

“With an increase in purchasing and consuming power, Chinese travellers have higher demands and expectations from hotels and resorts. They look for high-end or boutique resorts with cultural features so they can better experience the local culture. They are willing to pay more as long as they think it’s value for the money,” said Li.

GfK figures show half of China’s outbound travellers last year were aged between 15 and 29, with another 37 per cent between 30 and 44.