Laurens van den Oever, ForwardKeys’ chief marketing officer, speaking at a travel conference in London, said, “The Chinese dragon is breathing more hotly than ever. Bookings for outbound travel during Chinese New Year, in February 2018, are currently 40% ahead of where they were at the same time last year.”
Looking at a broader period, from the beginning of November until the end of February, bookings are also strongly ahead. The destinations which currently look set to enjoy the most positive growth are:
Thailand, where Chinese bookings are currently 47% ahead of where they were at this point last year, Vietnam, 40% ahead, France, 31% ahead, Singapore 28% ahead, Japan 27% ahead and Canada, 23% ahead.
Expenditure by Chinese tourists is also growing strongly. The management consultancy McKinsey estimates that Chinese spending on luxury goods has been growing at 9% per annum, whereas the average for the rest of the world has seen growth at 3% per annum.
Since 2014, more than a dozen countries have changed their visa rules to attract Chinese tourists and the impact has been dramatic.
In the six months following the relaxation of visa requirements, arrivals in Morocco increased 378%. Other big increases included Moldova, up 253%, Tunisia, up 240%, Serbia up 180%, Israel up 57%, Peru up 56% and Chile up 49%.
However, in the calendar year to date, Chinese enthusiasm for the USA has fallen sharply; visitor arrivals are 10% down. Neighbours in North America have benefitted substantially, with arrivals in Canada up 54% and Mexico up 29%.
Van den Oever added, “At the moment, we are seeing very strong growth in outbound tourism from China and there are no signs of that trend slowing. What we do see however is that Chinese tourists are hyper sensitive to bad news – if a destination’s image becomes tarnished they are swift to go elsewhere.”
ForwardKeys helps forecast future travel by analysing around 17 million flight booking transactions a day.