China is changing the face of global tourism. As more and more Chinese travelers are leaving home to explore other parts of Asia and destinations as distant as New Zealand, Dubai, and Tanzania, brands are scrambling to change their operations and marketing strategies accordingly. Gary Bowerman, author of The New Chinese Traveler: Business Opportunities from the Chinese Travel Revolution presents some major Chinese travel trends.
Farther Destinations. More than 100 million outbound border crossings were made from China during the first 11 months of last year, and 70 percent of these represented travelers from Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Eighty-nine percent of travelers from China, however, stayed within the Asian continent. Nevertheless, more experienced travelers are expected to broaden their reach and “take advantage of more direct flight routes to a greater spread of destinations” in the future.
American Appeal. The United States is seeing a rush of inbound Chinese travelers, and the numbers are only expected to grow. In the first nine months of 2014, around 1.77 million Chinese visitors arrived in the United States, representing a 21 percent year-on-year increase. The number for the entire year was projected to exceed 2 million, an increase from 1.9 million in 2013. Business people, tourists, and exchange students will continue to drive American travel in 2015.
African Growth. Twenty-eight out of 59 countries in Africa experienced China-related growth exceeding 60 percent between September 2013 and September 2014, and Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt, and South Africa were the top five African destinations for Chinese travelers last year. The continent is expected to experience continued growth in both its commercial and tourism sectors.
Niche Tourism. Spurred by the “fragmentation of Chinese outbound tourism and the quest for new experiences,” tourism boards are now promoting niche experiences to affluent travelers, such as ski resorts in Switzerland, fine cuisine in Australia, and winter holiday offerings from Canada.
Cruises. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), North Asia (and especially China) “is becoming a growth engine of the global cruise industry.” Chinese travel agencies are providing new cruise opportunities for their clients, larger cruise ships are entering the region, and major cruise lines are adopting a more China-focused approach to marketing.
Tourism and Hotel Assets. Last year, Chinese brands made some very high-profile international purchases related to tourism. Fosun “stepped up its bid for control of Club Med,” Anbang Insurance acquired the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, and Jin Jiang Hotels purchased Louvre Hotels. Such acquisitions will only become more commonplace in the future. Dalian Wanda will also unveil its worldwide Wanda Hotels and Resorts brand “from London and Madrid to Chicago and Australia’s Gold Coast.”
The Rise of China’s Secondary Airports. Since China’s primary airports are “over-worked” and provide limited opportunities for growth, airlines are creating new routes from China’s lower-tier cities. According to the Centre for Aviation, “there will be 11 daily long-haul flights into China’s secondary cities, spread across 26 city pairs – up from just four in 2010″ in 2015. At least eight international air carriers, including Lufthansa, British Airways, and United Airlines, will also operate secondary routes next year.
Global Visa-Free Access. China’s ranking on the Henley & Partners 2014 Visa Restrictions Index is low (tied for 83rd with Comoros and Jordan), but international travel will become easier for Chinese travelers in 2015 “as more governments and tourism boards integrate visa-free access into their China tourism strategies.”
New Payment Options for Travelers. Though retailers, ATM providers, hotels, and airport duty free stores the world over have upgraded their systems to accommodate China UnionPay cards, China “must remove UnionPay’s interbank clearing monopoly in 2015″ under World Trade Organisation rules. Credit card companies are expected to target Chinese travelers soon afterward.
More Effective Market Analysis. The tourism boards of countries as diverse as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, and Italy are regularly surveying Chinese travelers to analyze developing trends, an effective means of gauging the market “if challenging questions are asked.”
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