From all the news releases, news conferences, news media coverage and discussions at last week’s World Travel Market of subjects that ranged from America to Zanzibar, few had such simple and direct value as the headline of this article. The reason is that, as most of those who work the USA’s overseas inbound tourism have known for the past five years, the vast Chinese market has dramatically grown as an FIT source market.
The quote came from Adam Wu, CEO of CBN Travel during the WTM China Tourism Forum, as reported by Tatiana Rokou in the Travel Daily News International. In what follows, INBOUND has taken the information and arranged it into bytes that might be easier to digest:
- Chinese travelers took nearly 150 million outbound visits made by Chinese travelers in 2018, up 14.7 percent year-on-year, according to a report by the China Tourism Academy and Ctrip.
- They are the world’s highest spenders on overseas travel, splashing out $277 billion last year, which was twice as much as Americans, six times more than the French and four times more than the British.
- Previously Chinese travelers preferred to travel in groups but, now, 56 percent take FIT trips. Said Wu: “There is widespread information available, 1.2 billion are using WeChat, we go directly to you, the incoming service providers …. “The Chinese FITs like to book directly with the service providers. You might want to be ready.”
- The most popular destinations* for the Chinese last year were:
- USA (it fell from No. 4 in 2016)
*(INBOUND would point out that the USA remains the favorite long-haul international destination)
- Thailand, Japan Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, USA (having fallen from fourth place in 2016), Cambodia, Russia and the Philippines.
- European destinations are working closely with China to increase visitor numbers that have seen big rises include Croatia (+ 540 percent), Latvia (+ 523 percent, and Slovenia (+497 percent).
- Shopping is not number one for Chinese travelers, according to Wu, who told his audience that what Chinese visitors want are heritage, culture and authentic experiences. In surveys, more than 20 percent said attractions were their most important consideration, followed by food (15 percent) and shopping (6.5 percent).
- Said Wu: “To the Chinese, heritage matters. We pay attention to this. … Anything that we have seen on film is also important, I take my daughter to anything to do with Harry Potter, it’s not heritage but when they have seen a film, they want to experience the real thing.”
- Also, he noted, tourism businesses needed to make it easy for Chinese visitors by having websites in their language, guides able to communicate with them, and payment via WeChat, pointing out to listeners, “You need to make it easy for Chinese to pay, I can guarantee that someone who has WeChat pay will get more sales than one that doesn’t. We want easy of spending.”