Bitesize China Facts

There’s an abundance of insight available about the Chinese travel market and, at China Travel Outbound, we make it our business to read and analyse as much as we can. But for a bit of ‘China Lite’, we’ve pulled together a few of our favourite stats about Chinese visitors to the UK. With thanks to VisitBritain.

It’s not all about the shopping

Although over 60% of Chinese like to shop in Britain, they don’t come here to shop, but for a host of other reasons. The top motivation the Chinese give for visiting Britain is to see our cultural attractions, followed by our countryside and sampling local food and drink.

Comedies, tragedies and mysteries

The Chinese are interested in British culture with the monarchy topping the chart. But literature is very important too, with Mr Shakespeare coming in at number 2 on the list, Sherlock Holmes at number 4 and a wizarding schoolboy at number 6. Even Agatha Christie makes it into the top 20.

Big planners. Last minute?

The Chinese love to plan. Of all the long haul travellers questioned in VisitBritain’s survey, they were the least likely to agree with the statement ‘I like to be spontaneous on holiday and decide on some of my itinerary at the last minute’. However, when it comes to booking, 44% book within one month of travel. Which seems pretty late to us, given that Britain is a long haul destination.

A passion for Scotland

Although 47% of all holiday nights are spent in London, the Chinese are more likely to go to Scotland than any other nationality. Whisky is very popular too.

Agents and operators dominate

71% of Chinese surveyed booked via a travel agent, operator or comparison site rather than direct. Compare that with with the US market which is only 30% via the trade. Big difference. But one thing we have learned through our work promoting British destinations to the Chinese is that the operators won’t push unknown attractions into itineraries as the customers will question the inclusion. So, although it is absolutely vital to engage with the travel trade, British destinations and attractions also need brand awareness amongst Chinese consumers.

Finally, everyone’s favourite fact

Everyone’s favourite fact about the Chinese is that only around 4% of the population actually have a passport. And China is already the biggest overseas travel market in the world. So what’s it going to look like when 10, 20 or even 50% of Chinese people own a passport? Just imagine…

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The outbound market from China is not just the biggest source travel market in the world, it is also growing at an extraordinary rate. Whilst destinations, attractions and hotels have long since dedicated funds and resources to attracting visitors from Europe and North America, many are yet to market themselves in China. We’ve pulled together some big numbers, so read on to find out why you can’t afford to allow your travel brand to be left behind in the race for this lucrative market.

  1. It’s the largest outbound travel market in the world and the Chinese are travelling long haul too.

120 million Chinese people travelled overseas in 2015.

2.5 million Chinese tourists visited the USA in 2015 and 2 million visited France. China is the 2nd largest market for tourists to Australia and Bali and it’s the 5th largest market to the USA. The US State Department forecasts that Chinese travellers to the USA will be over 7 million by 2020.

In Q2 2016, for the first time, more Chinese tourists travelled outside Greater China than within it (Greater China = Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan).

  1. And it’s still growing.

The number of Chinese outbound tourists is forecast to nearly double to 220 million by 2020. And China’s outbound travel spend is forecast to reach US$255 billion by 2025, twice that of the USA. Just in Q2 2016 Chinese travel agencies organised 13.72 million trips, an increase of +17% y-o-y.

Only 4% of the Chinese population has a passport but around 10 million new passports are issued every year.

  1. China is one of the top 10 most valuable inbound markets to the UK.

Nearly 270,000 Chinese visited the UK last year, an increase of +47% y-o-y. They spent £586 million, an increase of +18% y-o-y. ¾ of Chinese tourists departing the UK are ‘very likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to recommend Britain for a holiday or short break.

The number of Chinese tourists coming to the UK has more than doubled since 2006 while total spend has multiplied by more than 5 times.

  1. The expanding middle class millennials spend a lot, travel independently, and are confident.

50% of China’s outbound tourists are millennials (those aged 15-29). There are 315 million Chinese in this age bracket and they will be joined by a further 74 million college graduates in the next 10 years.

74% of Chinese millennials feel they have more in common with their age group globally than with other Chinese people. They expect to spend US$4,362 on luxury goods in 2015. 66% pick Western brands over Asian luxury brands.

  1. China is forecast to be the first trillion-dollar aviation market.

Boeing delivered a record number of aeroplanes (200) to China in 2015 – the most it has ever delivered to a single market in one year. China’s passenger traffic rose 11.4% to 485 million passenger trips in 2015 and Boeing forecasts 6.4% annual growth in passenger traffic over the next 20 years.

In 2014, there were 396 international air routes from China. In 2015, there were 460. In 2016, there are 574.

  1. And air links between China and the UK are increasing.

In June 2016 Beijing-Manchester, the first direct air link between China and the North of England, launched. In August, BA agreed a codeshare with China Eastern which adds Kunming, Nanjing, Xi’an, Hangzhou and Chongqing to their route map. There are also rumours that Hainan Airlines are looking at direct routes from China to Ireland and Scotland.

  1. It’s easier to get a visa to visit the UK. Which should make a big difference.

The duration of the standard visitor visa for the Chinese was extended from 6 months to 2 years’ multiple entry at the beginning of 2016 and it’s easier for Chinese to apply for a UK visa too, since the mobile fingerprinting service has been extended from 9 to 50 cities. The UK already has more visa application centres in China than any other EU nation. Improving access to destinations for the Chinese has historically yielded a visitor increase of +20%.

  1. Chinese tourists are the biggest holiday spenders. They spend $74 million A DAY in the USA.

A Chinese tourist’s average holiday spend is nearly £1,900. Chinese tourists account for 30% of global luxury spending and 41% of Chinese tourists will take an extra suitcase on holiday just to accommodate their purchases.

40% of Chinese consumers’ luxury spending occurs overseas. In 2014, 2.18mn Chinese visited the USA and spent US$2.1 billion. The US State Department forecasts that Chinese travellers to the USA will be over 7 million by 2020 and they’ll spend over US$85 billion. Chinese tourists spent US$74 million every day in the USA in 2015. 

  1. It’s not just a group market.

Independent travel is the fastest-growing sector of Chinese outbound tourism. In 2014 over 70% of Chinese outbound tourists booked and paid for their trips themselves (rather than paying for organised tours).

  1. And if you want to sell to them, they’re waiting for you online.

More Chinese go online via their mobile ‘phones than Americans, Brazilians and Indonesians combined. More than 700 million Chinese are online and China’s online retail market is the biggest in the world.

To find out more about how to start marketing your travel or tourism brand to the Chinese, contact Helena Beard or Julie Withers at China Travel Outbound for a no obligation chat, or click here to read more of our articles about Chinese tourism.

With thanks to our sources:


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