EDITORIAL: Chinese outbound tourism to the EU

COTRI’s insights into Chinese outbound travel included in the latest edition of the UNWTO / GTERC Asia Tourism Trends report

by Christopher Ledsham, M.A.

As an Affiliate Member of the UNWTO, COTRI has contributed data and analysis of Chinese outbound tourism to the European Union in the body’s 2018 edition of the UNWTO / GTERC Asia Tourism Trends report.
The fifth issue in the series, the latest publication was presented in Macau at the Global Tourism Economic Forum (GTEF) on October 23, 2018. On top of its European focus – in honour of the ongoing 2018 EU-China Tourism Year – the report also features a chapter discussing the initiative to merge eleven cities in China’s Greater Bay Area and the effect this will have on tourism in the region.
Drawing from COTRI’s contribution to the ‘China and Europe in focus’ chapter, there are a number of key outtakes on the topic of contemporary trends in Chinese outbound tourism to Europe:

“Living like a local” – although traditional sightseeing and shopping activities are still considered important elements of Chinese travellers’ trips to Europe, tourism trends are continuing to shift towards ‘experience’-based activities, slower-paced travel and opportunities to try out the local cuisine in order to gain a deeper insight into the lifestyles of locals in a destination.

Arrivals growth in the ‘newer’ EU member states – led by newest member state Croatia, the top ten EU destinations for growth in Chinese arrivals between 2010 and 2017 includes Slovakia, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

‘Transit’ countries have lower numbers of overnight stays – countries frequently visited by Chinese travellers in a ‘transit’ capacity or on same day tours such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland and Luxembourg all have an average length of stay of less than 1.5 nights.

Younger, female, wealthier – Almost half of Chinese visitors to Europe in 2017 were between the ages of 30-49. This was followed by under 30’s at 32% and those aged 50 and above at 20%. With regards to gender demographics, female travellers made up 54% of all Chinese tourists to Europe and males made up 46%. Chinese travellers to Europe have considerably higher levels of income and expenditure than the average citizen.

Purpose of travel – in 2017 leisure travel made up for 65% of all Chinese trips to Europe, while business and MICE travel combined accounted for 19%, while VFR travel was 5%. All other types of travel made up the remaining 11%.

Direct flight connections – As of the end of 2017, there were 76 direct air routes between Europe and Mainland China, bringing the total number of passengers carried by Chinese and European commercial flights to 9 million. The first half of 2018 saw an additional 15 routes added, many of which came from second-tier Chinese cities.

The UNWTO/GTERC Asia Tourism Trends – 2018 Edition report is available at the UNWTO’s eLibrary. For purchase, further information and the opportunity to download an Executive Summary please see the following link.

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