Tapping into an untouched Chinese travel market


Chinese expenditure on outbound travel has grown by a stellar 53% in 2015, contributing heavily to the growth in global international spending on travel and tourism. But one source market remains untapped.

The Economic Impact Reports published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) flagship annual research, provide economic data on the contribution of the travel and tourism sector on a global level as well as for 184 countries and 24 regions.

According to the report, tourism expenditure from China reached US$ 215 billion in 2015, favorably impacting longer-haul destinations such as Europe and Oceania. But severe declines were experienced in its neighboring regions such as Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, due to local factors. Meanwhile Japan benefitted from a mini-boom in travel and tourism visitor exports (money spent by foreign visitors in the country) with increased Chinese outbound travel contributing to a 49% year on year increase.

In contrast to the tremendous increase in Chinese travelers going abroad, tourism into China, while still above the global average, has not been growing at the same pace. Visitor exports increased by only 3% last year.

There is an enormous opportunity for China to take greater benefit from the positive contributions made by travel and tourism. The sector can help fulfil the government’s objective of shifting from reliance on manufacturing towards a more service-focused economy. Visitor exports from tourism will help contribute to the Chinese economy as exports in some manufacturing sectors seem to be slowing down.

Travel and tourism supports over 65 million jobs in China, representing 8.4% of all jobs. But this is below the global average of 9.8%, emphasizing the further room for growth in travel and tourism’s contribution to employment. A strengthening travel and tourism sector would provide employment opportunities to balance any downturns elsewhere in the economy.

eTN is a media partner for WTTC.