Somebody falling into the ocean and in danger of drowning will not think about which kind of car to buy next year. At the moment the many twists and turns of the fight against the pandemic similarly keep concentration for most tourism service providers on the here and now. However, the global number of new infections is going down, the first percent of mankind will have been vaccinated within this week and the day after this editorial of COTRI Weekly is published as in text and video. And hopefully, the inauguration of a new president of the United States will bring back some sanity to the country and to international relations.
Therefore, even though last week the first Chinese person died from CoViD-19 since May 2020, the Chinese lantern, which is the light at the end of the tunnel for tourism, becomes more and more visible. Time to look at the 2020s in the longer view and the main trends in Chinese outbound tourism for the new decade: Health and Education.
Obviously, the pandemic brought the importance of health issues to everybody’s attention, but more important for the long term perspective is the coming of a new market segment into the market. The cohort of Chinese born in the 1960s has already been a part of the international market before especially as business travellers. Typically coming back from studies overseas in the 1990s with a good business idea to be transferred in a sinicized version to the Chinese virgin market with the help of some funding from Daddy’s friends, they have been working ever since 24-7 without regard for their personal health. Now the 60th birthday is coming closer and the body starts to give clear signals that it will not tolerate being disregarded any more. Medical, spa and detox treatments found a growing market already in the last few years but will see much stronger growth in the next ten years, with 25% of the Chinese population expected to be 60 years and older at the end of the current decade.
At the other end of the age scale, we find children and their educational needs, representing the second mega-trend for the 2020s. Internationally orientated parents, who might have studied themselves abroad, realise that an educational system which is not supporting critical thinking and creativity is not providing the necessary preparation for their child’s international career, starting with mastering the entry examination of a famous university abroad. Enrolment in international schools in China, but more importantly exposure to other cultures and languages and to different educational approaches during summer schools or educationally-orientated family trips are seen as at least a partial solution. Chinese kids are not supposed to play, they have to learn and to succeed in a highly competitive environment. Tiger mothers are the opposite of Helicopter parents: Instead of watching over every step of the children to guarantee their wellbeing, they push and shove the child to always come out on top.
Chinese outbound tourism will start again, will recover faster than any other source markets and will more and more dominate the international tourism market in the new decade. Stopping thinking of Chinese travellers as busloads of camera-tooting dimwits and starting to envisage instead silver-haired couples taking the waters and kids under the guidance of Waldorf School teachers will help to achieve a successful engagement with the Chinese outbound market during the – hopefully pandemic-free – roaring 2020s.
As always, best wishes from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI Weekly team!
This text is also available as a video together with many other interesting videos on the COTRI YouTube channel.