While international travel grew by about 4%, China recorded a higher 13% growth rate, further consolidating its position as one of the world’s most important source markets for international travel. Thus, China exceeded the Asian Pacific average outbound growth rate, which was at nearly 9% in 2016. These are the results of a special analysis by the World Travel Monitor, conducted by IPK International and commissioned by ITB Berlin.
Decline in trips to Europe in 2016
In 2016, the Chinese went on 51.2 million international trips with overnights, not including trips to Macau and Hong Kong. Compared to the previous year, that amounts to an additional six million trips and an increase of 13%. China also strengthened its position as the world’s fourth-largest source market behind Germany, the USA and the UK, while further distancing fifth-placed France. Around three out of four outbound trips from China are to destinations within Asia Pacific, with the Top-5 destinations being within the region, such as South Korea and Thailand. The USA is China’s sixth most popular destination, to which some 2.8 million trips have been made in 2016. The most preferred European destinations are Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Austria. However, following seven years of consecutive growth, Chinese trips to Europe declined by 4% in 2016 compared to the previous year, resulting in a total of 16% of all Chinese outbound trips going to Europe. Nevertheless, first trends for 2017 indicate a positive development again regarding Chinese trip to Europe.
City trips, Sun & Beach holidays gaining ground
Holidays are the reason for over 80% of Chinese outbound trips. Above all, holiday trips only (without visiting friends or relatives) have a significantly higher share among Chinese travelers (72%) compared to the global average of 57%. For some years, the most popular type of holiday has been round trips, whereas city trips, as well as Sun & Beach holidays, have been catching up recently. Even though the share of business trips in 2016 was rather small (15%), the number grew by 22% compared to 2015, while holiday trips increased by 11%. Moreover, the average length of stay abroad was nearly 6 nights, which represents a slight increase compared to the previous year, while spending per night remained at the same level.
Preference for first class hotels and agency bookings
Around 75% of Chinese outbound travelers chose to stay in hotels. Four and five-star hotels were the preferred categories, accounting for 52% of accommodation on all trips. Thus, also regarding the accommodation choice, the Chinese differ widely from the global average, which in respect to luxury hotels stands at only 39%. For the Chinese, planes are the preferred means of transportation, making up for over 80%. This figure is also significantly higher than the global average of around 60%.
When it comes to information sources used prior going on an outbound trip, 88% of Chinese travelers use the internet, which is only slightly higher than the worldwide average of 81%. However, while worldwide, around one in three travelers seek for information through a travel agency, Chinese exhibit a much higher share of nearly 70%. This also applies to travel agency bookings. Globally, around 30% book their outbound trip through a travel agency, while almost 50% of Chinese do so.
The World Travel Monitor Forum is an exclusive industry gathering which discusses the latest travel trends and forecasts of tourism development, taking place on the 9th and 10th of November 2017 in Pisa, Italy. A summary of the Forum’s main findings will be published in the ITB World Travel Trends Report (for last year’s edition click here).