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China’s outbound tourism market experiences robust growth and global impact

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In 2024, China’s booming outbound tourism market is set to surpass 264 million arrivals, significantly impacting global travel with a projected income of over $107 billion.

The China Tourism Academy has projected a vibrant recovery for China‘s inbound and outbound tourism market in 2024, expecting tourist arrivals to exceed 264 million, generating over $107 billion in international tourism income. This revitalization follows a global uptick in travel during 2023, with countries reopening their borders to Chinese tourists, especially in Southeast Asia, known for its convenient transport, language compatibility, and affordable travel.

Recent visa policy changes, such as Malaysia’s 30-day visa-free entry and Thailand’s mutual visa exemption with China, have spurred enthusiasm among Chinese travelers. This is evident from Alibaba’s Fliggy platform data, showing a surge in flight searches to Thailand following these announcements.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China’s data highlights a significant increase in international flights, from less than 500 weekly flights in early 2023 to over 4,600. This upswing in air travel correlates with rising outbound tourism, with popular destinations including Thailand, Singapore, the Maldives, Russia, New Zealand, the UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Nordic countries. Tuniu, China’s online travel service provider, reported a notable increase in outbound travel bookings, especially for the upcoming winter vacation and Spring Festival holiday.

The outbound travel market in China is booming, thanks to rising affluence and a growing middle class. Future Market Insights forecasts a robust 14.1% CAGR for China’s outbound travel market from 2022 to 2032, with the market poised to exceed US$ 690,719 million by 2032. This growth stems from the expanding travel industry in China and the increasing popularity of destinations in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Millennials represent a significant portion of this outbound market, increasingly turning to online platforms for travel information and bookings. With China’s vast population and growing economy, the market is set to reach new heights. “The China outbound travel market is benefiting from increasing disposable income, affordable travel options, and preferences for clean, scenic locations,” says Ronak Shah of Future Market Insights.

Key market players like Tuniu Corporation, Intrepid Travel, and G Adventures are focusing on strategic alliances and diverse business services to capitalize on this trend. The online booking segment is expected to dominate, particularly among younger travelers aged 15 to 35, who are showing a growing enthusiasm for travel.

Despite a slower recovery in international travel in 2023, experts are optimistic about a full rebound in 2024, potentially reestablishing China as the world’s largest travel market. The latest data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization indicated that the Chinese outbound tourism market had recovered to about 55 percent of pre-pandemic levels by the third quarter of last year.

In 2019, Chinese tourists made 155 million overseas visits, spending an impressive $255 billion. This spending power far surpassed that of tourists from the US, Germany, and the UK, making Chinese travelers key contributors to the global tourism market. The World Travel and Tourism Council’s report underscores this, highlighting that Chinese travelers average $1,350 per person in shopping expenditures, significantly impacting global tourism economies.

As China’s outbound tourism market continues its accelerated growth, its influence on global travel dynamics remains undeniable, shaping the future of international tourism.

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