We’ve prepared a list of top tourism and travel trends for those wondering how to get a bigger slice of China’s outbound tourism market in 2019. This list is part of a Predictions Mini-Series in which we will also cover platforms and consumption trends for the coming year.
Before we dive in to this particular topic, let’s quickly recap the opportunities Chinese outbound tourism presents:
- China is the World’s Largest Outbound Tourism Market.
- As of 2015, Chinese tourists took 1 million outbound trips.
- On the back of greater access to online travel information, friendlier visa policies and rising incomes, this figure is expected to reach 160 million by 2020.
Chinese Outbound Tourists are the Highest Spending International Travelers.
- Chinese tourists spent a combined US$288 billion on international travel in 2018, which is nearly a quarter of global tourism spending.
- Chinese outbound tourists spend an average of US$2000 per trip (including flights and accommodation), the highest among international travelers.
Chinese Tourists Include Many Attractive Market Segments.
- Both the number of Chinese outbound tour-group travelers and independent travelers are on the rise, and there’s little difference in spending between group and independent travelers.
- Within these broad groups, there are a number of segments, such as shoppers, adventure-seekers, culture enthusiasts, escapists and landmark hunters.
With that in mind, let’s take you through our top tourism and travel trend predictions for 2019.
1. Younger Travelers Seek More Exotic Destinations
Overall, destinations within four hours from China are most popular among Chinese outbound tourists.
However, we’re seeing younger travelers – especially those born between 1990 and 1999 – buck this trend. This group isn’t afraid to go long-haul for exotic destinations or niche experiences.
Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel platform, reported that Azerbaijan, Serbia, The Vatican, Georgia, Croatia, Portugal, Turkey, Ethiopia, Brazil and Peru saw the highest booking growth rates over 2018.
Analysis by Fliggy and CBNData ranks the following destinations as top of younger travelers’ wish lists:
- South Korea
- North Mariana Islands
2. Outbound Tourists Still Concentrated in First Tier Cities, But Diversifying
Only a small percentage of China’s population has a passport and passport holders are heavily concentrated in China’s ‘First Tier’ cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Fei Chang Zhun (飞常准), a data analytics company specializing in China’s travel industry, estimates that 74% of outbound tourists during China’s October National Holiday were from these four cities.
During the same period, around 17% of outbound tourists came from ‘New First Tier Cities’.
Outbound tourist numbers in these ‘New First Tier Cities’ are growing in triple digits. This fast growth means that 2019 will see an increasing number and proportion of Chinese outbound tourists come from ‘New First Tier Cities’.
Table 1: Growth Rates of Outbound Tourists from New First Tier Cities (H1 2017 to H1 2018)
With 14 ‘First Tier’ and ‘New First Tier’ cities occupying a substantial chunk of Chinese outbound tourists, targeting and tailoring marketing and promotional efforts is made much easier, because most of our target are not geographically disperse.
3. Unencumbered Middle Age and Senior Travelers Enjoy More
China’s middle age and senior travelers make up 46% China’s outbound tourists, but are frequently forgotten as a result of the hype around millennial travelers.
Analysis from Hotels.com shows that Chinese outbound tourists born after 1960 and 1970 spend around USD 300 per day at their destination – the same as younger travelers.
Figure 1: Hotels.com Survey Analysis of Different Aged Travelers
Unencumbered by mortgages or credit card debt, we expect China’s Post 60s and Post 70s outbound travelers to open the purse strings more and outspend their millennial counterparts in 2019.
That wraps up our 2019 tourism predictions! More exotic destinations for millennials, increasing diversity among outbound tourists and higher spending among middle aged and senior travelers.
Keep an eye on our blog and LinkedIn as we will also be publishing predictions on platforms and consumption trends in the coming weeks!
 “China tourism statistical bulletin 2017,” Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, 2017, en.cnta.gov.cn.
 “Workshop on Chinese Outbound Tourism Market”, United Nations World Tourism Organization Analysis, http://www2.unwto.org/event/unwto-workshop-chinese-outbound-tourism-market.
 “China tourism statistical bulletin 2017,” Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, 2017, en.cnta.gov.cn; McKinsey Analysis.
 Oliver Wyman Chinese Traveler Survey.
 Zhongguo Chanye Xinxi, “2017 年中国人口年龄结构、居民出境游人数及居民赴港澳游人均消费支出统计分析”, http://www.chyxx.com/industry/201801/605713.html.