The 18.0 million outbound border crossings made from Mainland China to destinations beyond Greater China made in the three-month period from April to May 2016 represents a generous 12.5% year-on-year increase of 2015’s equivalent figure of 16.0 million in Q2 2015. With only 15.8 million arrivals in the Greater China region from Mainland China in Q2 2016 – a 3.7% year-on-year decrease from 2015’s total of 16.4 million – it now means that, for the first time, more journeys are being made to destinations beyond Greater China (53.3% of the total) than within the Greater China region (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan).
Drawing upon its internal research, COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute has calculated that a total of 33.8 million border crossings were made from Mainland China in Q2 2016, representing a 4.32% year-on-year increase of 2015’s equivalent figure of 32.4 million. As was the case in Q1 2016, growth in total Chinese outbound journeys has slowed to single digit year-on-year figures, where double-digit results had previously been the norm.
While overall growth in Chinese arrivals continues to be sluggish, focusing on this total figure misses a number of more significant ongoing trends within Chinese outbound tourism.
Within the arrival decrease seen within the three Greater China destinations, for example, Macau has in fact seen modest year-on-year growth of 0.9% in Q2 2016, as the region attracted 4.8 million arrivals from the Chinese Mainland. This follows 2015’s drop-off in arrival numbers amidst the Beijing government’s targeting of gambling as part of its anti-corruption campaign.
On the other hand, as Greater China continues to see its arrival numbers suffer, COTRI data shows that other regional short-haul destinations are booming. South Korea, for example, registered a record 2.1 million Chinese arrivals in Q2, representing a year-on-year increase of 36.3%. Japan similarly saw a strong growth rate as Chinese arrival numbers reached 1.6 million in Q2 2016, 27.8% higher than 2015’s equivalent figure.
For long-haul destinations, COTRI research reveals a more mixed picture. Amidst security concerns following a number of high-profile terror attacks over the past year, Europe has seen sluggish growth in Chinese arrivals, with some destinations even reporting lower numbers of Chinese tourists than in Q2 2015. This trend, however, has been counterbalanced by alternative destinations such as New Zealand, Australia and the United States, which saw year-on-year arrival growth figures of 26.5%, 22.6% and 17.0% respectively.
It is therefore apparent that security concerns are continuing to impact Chinese tourists’ destination choices. Nevertheless, the ongoing overall growth in Chinese outbound tourism, especially beyond the Greater China region, suggests that their desire to travel overseas is not being negatively affected.