China and global tourism

by | Jan 13, 2023 | News, Retailing

China and global tourism


As the world reopened following the global pandemic, the absence of one international giant’s presence was felt. Since then, news that China has relaxed its strict Covid-19 travel restrictions has caused a buzz of excitement, and it is easy to understand why.

Before Covid, China was one of the world’s most important source of international travellers. The nation composed nearly one-quarter of total international arrivals to ASEAN states, making it the leading source of foreign tourist arrivals to the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These states include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Pre-pandemic, in 2019, China’s 155 million tourists spent $253 billion overseas. This figure was less than in the previous year, where Chinese tourists spent an estimated $277 billion abroad. As the world tourism industry has slowly started to recover, the absence of the monumental Chinese outbound tourist market has slowed the pace of recovery.

Discussing the relaxation of China’s measures, Julia Simpson, President & CEO WTTC identified outbound Chinese visitors as “among the most valuable in an economic sense.” According to the WTTC, Chinese visitors’ spending represented 15 per-cent of the grand total in 2019. Group, a Chinese multinational online travel company revealed that, following the announced easing of restrictions, on the morning of 27 December, recorded a 254 per-cent increase in mainland China’s outbound flight bookings compared to a day earlier. This was led with searches for flights to Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand.

Inbound international travel also looked hopeful with Group data showing bookings increasing 412 per-cent from the day before. Australia, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong SAR were at the top of the list for numbers of inbound travellers.

Lunar New Year holiday begins on 22 January and is typically a period for an outbound travel boom. Group’s data has shown searches for trips during this period to Japan, Thailand, South Korea, the United States, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and the UK were the most searched for destinations on 27 December.

Although the shape of China’s return to tourism is still unclear, with many postulating that spending habits have altered and demand shifted, the return of Chinese tourists to the market has been highly anticipated.


Article by Jess Brownlow