Chinese Tourists

Chinese tourists have caught the attention of travel agencies and hotels from every corner of the world. So what is the reason for this peaked interest on the Chinese travelers? And what makes up of this emerging demographic and how to attract them to your destination?

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Why you have to focus on these tourists?

Chinese travellers are a targeted group because of the number of the Chinese population and their ever-growing consumption capacities.  Let us analyze these factors so we can better understand the potential of this massive market.

Chinese are large in number

As stated in the Annual Report of China Outbound Tourism Development 2009-2012, there have been 70.25 million Chinese tourists traveling abroad just in 2011, with an increase of 22%. source China National Tourism Bureau


According to its quantity, China’s outbound market has already been one of the biggest markets on the globe, 1.2 times the US market, and 3.5 times the Japanese market.
China has already surpassed Japan and become the No.1 outbound tourism market. According to World Travel Organization, and there will be an estimate of 100 million Chinese people travelling abroad by 2020.

Tourists from China are generous in consumption

According to the data in 2011, Chinese tourists have become the most generous spending tourists in London, with 203.04 pounds on a single expense, 10% higher than that of the second country. The U.S. also benefits plenty from Chinese tourists who spends on average $7,107 per person, topping the chart on average expense again. From the chart below, we can see that most of the money spent abroad by Chinese tourists is on shopping.

china tourist consumption

Consumption of Chinese tourists

AC Nielsen and Pacific Asia Travel Association also pointed out that the expense of Chinese outbound tourist is close to ¥21,000 ($3,300)


Who are the Chinese tourists?

You have to understand what Chinese tourists like if you want them to shell out money at your travel destination. However, it is very difficult to summarize all the information of Chinese tourists because they can be so different according to different age, region and so on. It is crucial to pay close attention to their unique characteristics and major differences between them in order to cash in on this new era of travelers.

Regional Difference of Chinese travellers

Tourists from each province of China have their own characteristics, but they can be generally divided into two groups: tourists from North of China and those from the South.

Travel habit

According to the Nielsen China Outbound Travel Monitor, most Chinese tourists are from the south. In 2008, 10% of the residents from South of China have visited a foreign country, much higher than that in the North.



The better economic base can probably explain the higher outbound travel frequency of Chinese tourists from the south.
Another possible reason is the convenience. Most travel agencies capable of outbound travel organization are from the south.
Geographic convenience also accounts for the difference of travel frequency between tourists from north and south. The countries close to China north are Russia, North Korea and Mongolia who can’t compete with the countries neighboring China in south in tourism like Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and so on.


Chinese Consumption habit
Though the number of tourists from north of China is smaller than that of south, the Northerners have the advantage of spending more if they do ever travel.

According to the study released by Nielsen, 10% of the tourists from south of China prefer to stay in 5-star hotels or vacation villas while the people who like 5-star hotels and vacation villas accounts for 20% of all the tourists from north of China. Source

Purpose for traveling

Most Chinese people travel outbound for two reasons: business and/or leisure.
Amongst all the outbound tourists from China, business travelers contribute to 46% and another 31% is from leisure tourism, as China news reports. And these two kinds of tourists have quite different factors that foreign industry needs to be aware of.


Business tourists

Business travelers care much more about business-related service of hotels such as

  • internet access
  • 24h food delivery
  • ticket booking service
  • efficiency of hotels service.

All these factors have one thing in common: to provide convenience for business people. It means convenience is more important for businessmen than normal tourists. Some detailed cultural taboo also can’t be overlooked since Chinese people can be quite superstitious. Unfortunate number like 4, representing death, is what most Chinese business tourists will like to avoid.

What’s also interesting is that Chinese business traveler care more about price and quality than leisure tourists. Since the anti-corruption campaign, business travelers have to consider their expense more modestly to avoid any corruption scandals. via


Leisure tourists

Compared with business tourists, leisure tourists care more about

  • entertainment and recreation facilities
  • TV programs in Chinese
  • luggage service.

All of them are about personal entertainment and relaxation, which is what leisure tourists are looking for.

Senior Citizen Tourists

Chinese senior citizens are quite important to the tourism market because they have time, money as well as the desire for travel. Another reason for travel agencies to like them is that old tourists in China usually travel during off-season so they can fill the slow seasons with bookings.

Expanding the Market of Chinese Senior Citizen Tourists

The average income of Chinese people is increasing. It goes the same for senior citizens.

China ranks number one for senior citizen population and with the most rapid growth in the world. By the end of 2014, there will be 200 million people over 60 years old living in China. According to the tradition of Chinese, children are expected to care and financially support their parents for as long as possible.


Senior tourists are spending more on travel

Because of their humble up bringing during the Mao era, most citizens over 60 are more penny-pinching. Though it doesn’t mean they are poor. On the contrary to their penny-pinching ways, some senior tourists do prefer first-class tour services. What makes it even better is that the percentage of this group of senior tourists is increasing. (Source: People Daily)


Many middle age Chinese people are very willing to spend on their parents after they become rich because of the culture of filial piety. It is seem as loyal and loving to send their parents on abroad trips. These tourist are not sensitive to price but to quality.


Special needs

Many senior tourists would like to come back or recommend their friends to tours who gave the best service and made them feel cared for. So a good tour guide who can give elders extra attention can mean many more return business.
Senior Chinese tourists have special needs on accommodation different from western tourists and young Chinese tourists like the beds, hot water and so on.

China student tourists

“Study hard, play harder.” Before exams, Chinese students are the hardest working student in the world. After that, they  let loose as international tourists. And Chinese parents are known for their generosity on giving money to their children to reward them for their academic achievements. With strong financial support from parents, Chinese students have formed a special market in tourism.

They like outbound tours

These young teens like outbound traveling routes, especially destinations such as Europe and Australia.

They like adventures

Special interest tours with an edge are very popular amongst China student tourists

  • water travel
  • natural leisure tour
  • amusement park tour
  • famous university tour

They are big spenders

According to a survey from China Consumer Association, after the infamous college entrance exam where it can make or break one’s education future, students spend money way more generously than others. They are especially generous in travel, restaurants and digital products.

Investment Traveling

With soaring inflated property prices in China, many people choose to invest overseas to keep the value of their money. In China citizens technically own their property but not the land because the land belongs to the communist government. The thought of being able to own a piece of land and a property in a foreign country for a fairly affordable price can be a real drawl to Chinese citizens. Chinese people firmly believe in owning land and properties as a way to expand their wealth. And on their leisure travels they often keep an eye out for any eye-catching properties.

Investment Traveling


Solving the Chinese Tourists Puzzle

Since the Reform and Opening of China’s economy, more and more Chinese citizens are traveling abroad to visit, travel and consume products around the world. Chinese tourists have already become the driving force for the tourism industry. At the same time, they are also confusing many foreign travel agencies and companies in this field because they have unique and special  requests and travel habits. To solve the puzzle, you will need to understand the culture of Chinese and habit of their thinking. Then you can define their needs and your selling points.

After defining their needs, you will need to work out a strategy, online, off-line or both, that suits your company and attract the right Chinese tourist.


Next step: How to Attract Chinese tourists?