The recent headlines proclaiming that Chinese tourists are shopping less abroad may seem alarming, but it’s not all bad news, particularly not for the travel industry and service providers, who are set to welcome a record 7 million outbound Chinese tourists during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday that begins on February 5th.
While it’s true that as many Chinese tourists aren’t choosing shopping as their primary purpose for travel, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t spending money on travel or spending any less while abroad. It simply indicates that priorities have shifted in terms of where their money is spent.
In a joint report from Alipay and Nielsen, “2018 Trends for Mobile Payment in Chinese Outbound Tourism,” the annual average per person budget for outbound travel is set to rise this year to $6,706 (RMB 45,515) from $6,026 (RMB 40,900) in 2018.
Global consultancy Oliver Wyman noted that shopping accounted for only 32 percent of Chinese tourists’ overall travel budget last year, which was a significant decline from 41 percent in 2016. The survey of 2,000 Chinese travelers found that the average expenditure on shopping totaled $855 (RMB 5,800) in 2017, down from $1,179 (RMB 8,000) in 2016.
Chinese travelers made about 140 million outbound trips in 2018, an increase of 13.5 percent year-on-year, according to China Tourism Academy (CTA), a research institution affiliated with the China National Tourism Administration. The CTA also estimated that those travelers spent over $120 billion in 2018, up from $100 billion the year before. But where did this increase go, if not spent on souvenirs and luxury products?
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