Editorial: Early Outlines for Chinese Outbound Tourism in 2019

Increases in Chinese Arrivals for the first two months of this year

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Dear Readers,

The year 2019 started on a positive note, with five of the six most important destinations for Chinese outbound travel reporting positive developments in arrival numbers, despite the fact that in most places, lower levels of daily spending per person were recorded.

As the Chinese New Year (CNY), depends on the lunisolar calendar and fall on any date between January 21 and February 20, depending on the year, statistics for China should always analyze the trends of these two months together, especially since this period is one of the major travel periods in the year.

Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR both saw records broken with more than ten million Mainland Chinese visiting Hong Kong during the first two months of the year and more than five million entering Macau in the same period. The increase of about 20% compared to the same period in 2018 was however for a large extent based on increases in same-day visitor arrivals. In Hong Kong, less than four million of the ten million Mainland visitors stayed overnight and similarly in Macau, more than half of them stayed just for the day. The new bridge connecting Zhuhai, Macau, and Hong Kong, which opened in late October 2018, attracted plenty of visitors from the neighbouring Guangdong Province. The increased numbers of travellers will definitely delight the architects of the new “Greater Bay” concept, which aims to closer connect Guangdong with the SARs, both economically and in daily life.

Thailand, the undisputed top destination outside Greater China for Chinese travellers, fared less favourably than all other TOP 6 destinations. Thailand saw a total of 2.1 million arrivals in the first two months of 2019, which is in itself an impressive number, but was a 2% decrease from the 2.2 million arrivals seen in the year before. With all things considered, this recorded decrease could have been worse. The second half of 2018 saw arrival numbers fall drastically by around 10%, in lieu of the tour boat accident off Phuket in July 2018 in which dozens of tourists lost their lives. There was additionally, an outbreak of dengue fever and the strengthened baht, all of which contributed to the fall in visitors in recent months.

Seeing close to 1.5 million arrivals, Japan developed in a rather orderly fashion in the first two months of 2019, whereas Vietnam experienced a relatively minute increase from 900,000 arrivals in January/February 2018 to 920,000 in January/February 2019. The two previous CNY periods had witnessed increased arrivals from China of about 80% and 40% respectively.

Finally, South Korea, which slipped from 5th to 6th position in the overall arrivals of 2018, and was overtaken by Vietnam, recorded the highest growth rate in arrivals in the first two months of 2019 amongst the TOP 6 destinations. 30% more Chinese travellers arrived compared to January/February 2018, bringing the total number up from 650,000 to 850,000. However, this is still way below the results for 2016, 2017, and 2018, which saw more than a million arrivals for each CNY period. It will need a jump of 30% next year to return to the level of 1.15 million Chinese visitors it experienced in 2017.

All data mentioned here are rounded figures, for exact arrival data and detailed socio-demographic splits of market segments, please refer to COTRI ANALYTICS figures.

Easter holidays are coming, so COTRI WEEKLY will take a break next week.

We would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Easter!

Best wishes for the week ahead from the COTRI WEEKLY Team!

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt

COTRI Intelligence

COTRI Intelligence is the indispensable source of weekly consulting, analysis, data and news for everybody seriously interested in the post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourism market and changing Chinese consumer preferences.  COTRI Intelligence is published by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute and edited by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS. Regional partners and Content partners [...]

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