International travel in China
Chinese (FXI) tourists spent more on international travel than any other country in the world last year despite weak currency and slowing economic growth. International tourism expenditure in China, the world’s biggest outbound tourism market, grew 12% to $261 billion in 2016 as per a report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. This number is nearly half of the 25% growth recorded in 2015 but marks the 13th consecutive year of double-digit growth in overseas tourism expenditure by Chinese tourists. The number of international Chinese travelers rose 6% to 135 million in 2016. When China joined the Word Trade Organization back in 2001, a mere 12 million tourists from China travelled abroad. However, by 2016, this number has grown nearly 10 times to 135 million international tourists.
“Despite the many challenges of recent years, results of spending on travel abroad are consistent with the 4% growth to 1.2 billion international tourist arrivals reported earlier this year for 2016,” UNWTO secretary-general Taleb Rifai said.
Compared to the United States (SPY), Chinese tourists spent nearly twice as much on international travel in 2016 compared to Americans. This was the fifth year in a row that China’s international tourism expenditure was the highest in the world, beating out leading markets of United States, Germany (DAX), Great Britain (UK) and France (EWQ). Overall, Chinese tourists spent nearly the equivalent of American, German, and British tourists combined. In 2016, American international tourists spent $122 billion, while Germans and British spent $81 billion and $64 billion. In the past two decades, China has emerged as a key source of tourists in the international market.
The rise in international tourism from China has benefitted countries in the Asia Pacific region as well as Europe (EZU), United States and the Middle East (GULF). In Asia (AAXJ), Japan (EWJ) and South Korea (EWY) witnessed the highest arrivals of Chinese tourists.
In 2017, China’s total tourism expenditure is estimated to touch nearly 6 trillion yuan, or $865 billion with inbound and outbound tourists combined as per reports by the China Tourism Academy and online travel agency giant Tuniu.com. China’s government has a five-year plan to boost tourism, with the country aiming to hit 7 trillion yuan in tourism revenues by 2020. Additionally, the World Travel & Tourism Council expects China to remain amongst the top 10 fastest growing markets for leisure travel for the next ten years.