COTRI H1 report identifies destination winners and losers


The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) Market Report, Autumn 2018 takes a comprehensive look at the Chinese outbound tourism market in H1 2018, including data on Chinese arrivals around the world; updates on visa regulations and new flight routes; in-depth reports on select destinations and market segments; and insightful data from two of China’s leading online travel agencies and travel websites: Ctrip and Qyer. Outbound tourism flows are also likely to be a good indicator of outbound medical travel from China.

The 10 takeaways from the report that Jing Travel highlights are:

1) Outbound tourism will continue to grow. 2018 has been a particularly strong year for Chinese outbound tourism growth, with 42 million border crossings outside of Greater China (encompassing China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) in H1 2018, accounting for 53% of Chinese outbound tourism. COTRI predicts that destinations beyond Greater China will receive 60% of Chinese arrivals by 2024, and 66% by 2030.

2) Indonesia, South Korea and the USA have declined as destinations. Most of the top 15 arrival destinations for Chinese outbound tourism in H1 2018 have seen double-digit year-on-year growth. The three exceptions are Indonesia (-0.7%), which has suffered from volcanic activity; South Korea (-3.7%), which is still recovering from last year’s group tourism ban; and the USA (-9.5%), which has ended a decade of positive growth.

3) Visa-free travel stimulates growth. Most of the highest growth destinations worldwide have enacted visa reforms to benefit Chinese tourism in the past three years. These include Morocco, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina, which all offer visa-free travel for Chinese tourists.

4) More independent travellers. In H1 2018, 42% of leading Chinese online travel agency Ctrip’s sales have been for FIT (free independent travel) products, with 44% for package group tours, and 14% for private group tours and customized travel. Strong growth in FIT to destinations like Australia necessitates the development of services to cater to independent travelers, such as Chinses mobile payments and the availability of Chinese-language information, accessible through QR codes.

5) Customised tours continue to grow. At nearly 15% of Ctrip’s market, customised tours and private group tours continue to grow as an important outbound market segment. This kind of travel is more expensive than package group tours or FIT, and the travelers that opt for it tend to be wealthier and more sophisticated, looking for a local, unique and in-depth travel experience, as well as greater privacy.

6) Attraction of Chinese diaspora. There are 50 million Chinese nationals living overseas, outside of Greater China, and they attract VFR (visiting friends and relatives) travellers. VFR tends to be one of the most stable segments of the Chinese outbound tourism market, less affected by seasonality or politics. While 70% of Chinese living overseas are in Asia, the top 15 countries for VFR travel are more spread out, with a preference for English-speaking countries including the USA, Australia and the UK, in the top three positions respectively. VFR travelers tend to spend longer in a destination, with more potential for dispersal and visiting surrounding areas.

7) Tokyo and Paris popular. Chinese travel website Qyer saw a 180% increase in searches for Paris in H1 2018, making the French capital its second most searched-for destination after Tokyo.

8) Niche holidays growing. There’s been very strong growth for niche, "final frontier" destinations that offer bragging rights to experienced travelers. Peru enjoyed a 40% growth in Chinese arrivals in the first half of 2018, and bookings to Africa  on Ctrip were up 70% in the first seven months of 2018, compared to the previous year.

9) Arctic area visits attraction. Another type of adventurous, "final frontier" travel destination is the arctic and Antarctic. While Chinese outbound travel to arctic areas – including Finland, Norway and Russia – is dominated by millennials, 58% of Chinese visitors to Antarctica are over the age of 45.

10) Japan and Thailand popular for city travel. The top 10 most-downloaded guides on Qyer in H1 2018 were: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Bangkok, Paris, Barcelona, Phuket, Hong Kong, Rome, and Los Angeles.



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