China: Outbound Travel Up 22% in 2011, Set to Overtake United States


China’s booming economy and growing middle class is resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese people traveling abroad. With the number of Chinese travelers making international trips up by 22% in 2011 compared to 2010, it is no longer a question of if China will overtake Germany as the world’s second largest market for outbound tourism, but when.

And it is just a question of time before China replaces the United States as the world’s largest outbound tourism market, a report by suggests.

Travelers from China already account for a phenomenal 67% of foreign arrivals in Hong Kong. More than 28 million people from the mainland visited the former British Crown Colony in 2011, and that figure is likely to grow when the Individual Visa Scheme is expanded beyond the current 49 cities..

“The Chinese made a staggering 70 million international trips in 2011 and, while many of these were to Hong Kong and Macau, the number going further afield is growing significantly,” says Johan Svanstrom, Managing Director of Asia Pacific.

“Implementing strategies to cater specifically to this burgeoning source market is moving from a nice-to-have to a competitive necessity.”

Chinese Tourists as Big Spenders

Travelers from China are also becoming more confident, more independent, younger, more familiar with foreign customs and cultures, and less likely to travel in groups.

While countries such as Japan, Korea, and Spain are relaxing visa requirements, hotel operators are responding by hiring Mandarin speaking staff, serving Chinese dishes at breakfast, adding Chinese language television channels in hotel rooms, launching Chinese language websites, and offering Chinese language newspapers.

What Chinese Travelers Want 

  • 41% of Chinese travelers want Chinese language TV programmes in their hotel rooms
  • 42% of Chinese travelers want Mandarin speaking staff to wait on them
  • 46% of Chinese travelers want Chinese dishes on the menus in hotel restaurants
  • 53% of Chinese travelers want Chinese language newspapers in their hotel rooms
  • 54% of Chinese travelers want hotel websites in Chinese
  • 62% of Chinese travelers want to be able to pay in hotels by China UnionPay

Most Popular Hotel Facilities

  • 24% of Chinese hotel guests eat at hotel restaurants
  • 19% of Chinese hotel guests shop at hotel shops
  • 12% of Chinese hotel guests patronize hotel bars
  • 6% of Chinese hotel guests chill out at hotel spas
  • 3% of Chinese hotel guests work out at hotel gyms

How to Exploit the Chinese Market

Operators of hotels and other businesses catering to travelers that leave things to chance do so at their peril. They need to carefully consider the wants and needs of the Chinese market if they want to exploit its full potential.

“Hoteliers should form concrete plans in two areas,” Johan says.

“Firstly, develop marketing strategies to reach the Chinese source market, concentrating on on-line as the Chinese Internet population has now crossed the 500 million mark. Secondly, adapt hotel property services to cater to the expectation and needs of this growing audience.”


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