What are the reasons for the growing interest in Chinese travelers? And what makes up of this emerging demographic?

Since the dramatic reform and opening up of China’s economy, more and more Chinese citizens are traveling abroad to visit, travel and consume products around the world. At the start of 2015 there were over 100 million outbound Chinese tourists. These developments represent a significant opportunity for tourism industries around the world capitalize upon this.

Chinese tourists have become a driving force in the global tourism industry so understanding the unique features and needs of Chinese visitors is key.

Adapting to this emerging market can be confusing for many foreign travel agencies and companies. The Chinese have unique, special needs and travel habits that need to be understood and catered for.

Chinese Outbound Tourists Have Become The Global Majority

Chinese tourists have caught the attention of travel agencies, hotels and tour package providers in every corner of the globe. In terms of quantity China’s outbound tourist market is already largest on planet. It is 1.2 times the size of the US market, and 3.5 times larger than the Japanese market. The World Travel Organization estimate that there will be 100 million Chinese people travelling abroad by 2020.
How to attract Chinese tourists?

Chinese Tourists Spend Highly Abroad

The BBC reported that the Chinese have become the single greatest source of global tourism income after spending $102bn (£67bn; 79bn euros) while travelling abroad in 2012. With an increasingly affluent and sizeable middle class consumption is set to further increase. Higher disposable incomes and a desire for international products and brands all lead to this significant consumer spending abroad.

The Chinese are very keen on shopping, it is often a high priority on their agenda. People will often have large families and social circles, when they travel abroad they want to bring home many souvenirs for relatives and friends. The Telegraph reported that the Chinese are often avid consumers spending on average nearly 650 pounds ($1000) on foreign high streets.
When speaking to the BBC about Chinese tourists abroad Evan Saunders, ‘Attract China’s’ co-founder said, “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the past year alone – not just in terms of the numbers, but what the visitors want to do and how they spend when they get there”. Keeping abreast of new trends and visitor’s habits is important.

Regional Differences of Chinese Tourists

Tourists from each province of China have their own characteristics, but they can be generally divided into two groups: tourists from the North of China and those from the South.
According to the ‘Nielsen China Outbound Travel Monitor’, most tourists are from the south of the country.
There is a stronger economic base in the south with more travel agencies based here. Geographic convenience and accessibility are key factors. The north of China is bordered by Mongolia, Russia and North Korea, nations not popularly associated with tourism. In contrast many top Asian tourist destinations are closer to the south of China (Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam etc.).
Interestingly studies suggest that although fewer tourists travel from the north when they do they spend more.
According to a study released by Nielsen, 10% of the tourists from south of China prefer to stay in 5-star hotels or vacation villas while those who opt for this more luxurious accommodation account for 20% of tourists from the north of China.

Chinese Business Tourism

Of the total number of Chinese outbound tourists 46 % are travelling for business. This type of traveler will care more about efficiency and the quality of business related services such as:
  • – high speed internet access
  • – 24 hour food delivery
  • – ticket booking services
The key is convenience, business travelers will value a convenient, efficient service higher than those travelling for leisure.
Interestingly Chinese business travelers may see the price as vitally important. With government anti-corruption campaigns being launched Chinese officials and businessman may well be more modest with regards to their expenditure to avoid these corruption scandals.

Leisure Tourism

Leisure tourism makes up 31% of the total amount of outbound tourism from China.

Compared with business tourists, leisure tourists care more greatly about:

– Entertainment and recreational facilities

– TV programs being shown in Chinese

– Tour packages and knowledgeable guides.

They are seeking personal stimulation, entertainment and relaxation.

Chinese Tourists

Senior Citizen Tourists

China has the largest senior citizen population in the world. At the end of 2014, there were 200 million people over 60 years old living in China. According to Chinese tradition, children are expected to care and financially support their parents for as long as possible.
Many increasingly affluent, middle class Chinese are willing to spend money on their parents. It is seen as loyal, respectful and loving to send their parents on trips abroad. These tourists are not sensitive to price but to quality.
Chinese senior citizens are important to the tourist market because they are likely to have more free time, money and a desire to travel.  Travel agencies look to attract older tourists in China because they usually travel during the off-season, agencies can therefore fill the quieter and slower seasons with bookings.
Many senior tourists come back and recommend their friends to tours and hotels who gave the best service and made them feel cared for. Providing a service which gives elderly special attention and caters for their needs can lead to substantial repeat business.

Visitors have a tendency to travel in larger tour groups

Tourists travelling for leisure will most often travel in larger, Chinese tour groups.

Agencies take care of Chinese tourists and often organize group travel. This is beneficial as it is likely to increase the number of people travelling. According to the latest report by national tourism agency in China, 70% of Chinese people travel through agency organized groups. There are a number of reasons for this.

-Language barrier: many Chinese citizens do not speak English so they need a guide

-Visa difficulties: agencies take care of everything and make it easier to obtain a VISA, this can often be a hassle for Chinese travelers because of the complicated process.

-Fear of adventure: most Chinese people have never travelled abroad until the recent decade, so they are less eager to explore alone. They turn to experienced travel agencies and feel more comfortable with other Chinese citizens.

– The Chinese live in a more collective, communist society where people are used to doing things in groups.

-Price benefits: traveling with a travel agency is much cheaper than traveling in a single or small group, in a price sensitive society like China this is one of the driving factors encouraging group travel.

Attracting Chinese Tourists

After defining the different ‘types’ and demographics of tourists you will need to work out a strategy, online and off-line that suits your company and attracts the right Chinese tourist to your particular destination (Tnooz).

We are a specialist digital marketing agency with an in-depth understanding of the Chinese tourist market. If you have any questions or would like to seek further advice do not hesitate to contact us.

For more advice on attracting Chinese visitors see our previous article. 

For further information on our marketing agency click here.