May Day Holiday Sees Chinese Tourists Flock to South Korea and Japan at the Expense of Hong Kong and Taiwan
- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 11th May 2016
- currency, holiday, hong kong, japan, korea, may day, shopping, south korea, taiwan, trend
This year’s May Day Holiday, which took place between April 30th and May 2nd, saw Chinese tourists travelling to Japan and South Korea in record numbers following a number of conscious efforts to attract Chinese shoppers. However, long-favoured consumer hubs Hong Kong and Taiwan suffered drops in numbers of Chinese tourist arrivals as the more politically-unpredictable destinations continue to fall out of favour with mainland visitors.
The holiday is considered to be the peak annual travel period for outbound Chinese tourism and often sees large numbers of mainland Chinese residents taking advantage of their limited yearly leave to make shopping trips in regional locations within short a travelling distance. Accordingly, the South Korean tourism and retail industries sought to benefit from this wave of potential customers and shopping-related special promotions targeted at Chinese outbound travellers, such as personal shopping assistants, were offered throughout the country. In the context of an anticipated increase in arrivals throughout the year, the Korean Tourism Organization estimated that as many as 63,000 Chinese tourists visited the country over the holiday weekend.
Japan, which has seen the Yen rise against the Renminbi recently following a period of comparatively low value in recent years, has also made concerted efforts to lure Chinese shoppers in recent times by developing its cross-border e-commerce compatibility and providing after-service care to consumers. Addressing the potential decline in tourism numbers in the aftermath of the Kumamoto earthquake in April, the May Day weekend also saw Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announce plans to relax tourist visa requirements for Chinese nationals whilst meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.
In spite of offering special discounts, Hong Kong and Taiwan registered drops in numbers over the May Day holiday period amidst a wider decline in numbers of Chinese tourists; Taiwan saw 20% fewer mainland arrivals than the same period last year, whilst Hong Kong’s figure is reported to be as low as 50% less than the 2015 holiday. Hong Kong has suffered particularly from damages to its reputation as a “hospitable” destination following numerous reported incidents of harassment of mainland visitors, as well as a number of anti-Beijing protests in recent years. Furthermore, arrival numbers have been hit severely by visa restrictions placed upon Shenzen residents in April 2015, which now permits them to only cross into the region once per week, rather than daily. Whilst Taiwan maintains strict quotas on mainland tourists of 5,000 individual and a further 5,000 group travellers per day, it has also seen drops in arrival numbers in the wake of political tension surrounding the election of Tsai Ing-wen in January 2016.
The widespread decline of mainland visitors in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau comes amidst greater demand amongst Chinese outbound tourists to venture to destinations beyond the Greater China region as they become more “experienced” travellers. This becomes particularly apparent during peak travel periods, when Chinese workers typically only have a few days’ leave and will look to visit locations close to home, yet are nevertheless more “exotic” than crowded destinations in the Greater China region. Furthermore, this trend has been further accelerated by increasingly flexible visa rules in overseas locations, such as the visa-free policy for Chinese nationals in South Korean holiday destination Jeju Island.
COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute provides expert insights into the worldwide developments of China’s outbound tourism market. As Chinese outbound tourists are travelling to a large range of destinations, our publications cover a number of different regions. Important Chinese visitor activities are analysed, and detailed insights are presented.
With COTRI’s insights you can create a successful business strategy with in-depth market insights, comprehensive qualitative analyses, and future prospects. The recently published Spring 2016 Edition of the COTRI Market Report features in-depth analysis of the developing trends in Chinese outbound tourism, supported by a wealth of qualitative and quantitative statistical research.