The sixth annual Chinese International Travel Monitor report by Hotels.com™ reveals that Chinese travelers have entered a new phase in their evolution. More educated and increasingly sophisticated in their tastes and expectations, they want more of everything – more time traveling, more locations and more exotic experiences.
Chinese travelers are spending a whopping 28 per cent of their income on average on international travel, with 90s millennials being the biggest spenders, allocating 35 per cent of their income to travel.
This ‘more generation’ is providing huge economic benefits to global economies with China seeing 122 million outbound tourists in 2016 – 4 per cent more than in 2015 and a staggering 74 per cent more than in 2011 .
Abhiram Chowdhry, Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific and Latin America for the Hotels.com brand says the potential for growth in both the number of Chinese travelers and their spending power is enormous.
“Our research has identified that China outbound tourism offers huge economic benefits to many countries across the globe. It’s therefore vital that hotels cater for Chinese travelers and develop innovative hotel services that tap into their enormous spending power, while ensuring the sustainability of their businesses – and local travel industry – for the future.”
Malaysian hotels lure Chinese tourists
61 percent of Malaysian hoteliers witnessed an increase in the number of Chinese guests last year, compared to 42 percent in other countries. In response to the growing volume of Chinese travelers, 31 percent of local hoteliers are now offering services tailored to Chinese guests, with the top one being hiring Mandarin speaking staff.
The top request from Chinese guests are Wi-Fi (89 percent) and Mandarin-speaking staff (73 percent). Seeing the increasing need to enhance their services for Chinese travelers, 28 percent of local hoteliers are already offering Chinese language training to their staff.
47 percent of local hoteliers also believed that the relaxing of visa requirements for Chinese travelers will significantly affect their business – the government introduced two new visa schemes in March involving Chinese tourists.
Penang, for the best value in the world
The latest CITM has also revealed that Malaysian hotels offered among the best values in the world, with Chinese travelers paying the least for hotel rooms in 2016 in Penang. Furthermore, Kuala Lumpur ranked third in this list, behind Hanoi.
This finding from CITM further supports Hotels.com’s latest Hotel Price Index™ (HPI) data, which highlighted the excellent value that Malaysian hotels offered.
The KL factor
Kuala Lumpur, known for its shopping, dining and cultural offerings, appeals strongly to Chinese travelers. The city has been listed for the first time as among the ten most popular destinations for Chinese travelers to visit in APAC, putting the Malaysian capital above other popular destinations like Bali and Seoul. The ranking also puts Kuala Lumpur as the third most popular city for Chinese travelers in Southeast Asia, after Singapore and Bangkok.
Top ten cities in Asia Pacific Chinese travelers are intending to visit in the next 12 months, according to CITM:
Increasing travel spending
Despite many key indicators providing signs of a slowdown in the Chinese economy, this year’s CITM found spending on travel increased across all age brackets, with Chinese travelers spending an average of USD $3,600 (MYR 15,490) in the last 12 months – more than a quarter of their income, and up from 24% compared to the previous year.
Looking ahead, Chinese travelers declared an intention to spend an average of 10 per cent more on travel over the next 12 months, millennials looked to increase their spend the most, with around two thirds of post 80s and 90s saying they expect to spend more.
The average amount spent per day also increased – up 8 per cent from 2016 – with dining, sightseeing and rest and relaxation activities proving most popular. Interestingly, shopping took a 35% dive from last year, indicating the increasing diversification of Chinese travel activity preferences.
To APAC and beyond
While APAC is still the most popular destination (82 per cent have visited in the past 12 months), the CITM report identified that long-haul trips to Europe and America have increased in popularity. The number of Chinese travelers visiting these destinations in the past 12 months increased by 25 per cent (Europe) and 11 per cent (America) compared to the previous year. These destinations were particularly popular with post 80s travelers, with 42 per cent visiting Europe and 29 per cent visiting America in the past 12 months.
Looking ahead, Chinese travelers show a desire to travel even further than before, with countries such as France, the USA, Canada and Germany leaping in popularity, in comparison to their rankings in 2016. Interesting, despite not making the top ten, Latin America stood out as an appealing destination, with research showing that Chinese travelers traveling to Latin America tend to travel and spend more – with an average of nine trips per year, compared to over 4 overall, and have a higher spend of US$5,600 (MYR 24,090) versus US$3,600 (MYR 15,490) overall.
Top ten destinations Chinese travelers are intending to visit in the next 12 months, according to CITM:
Latin America, while still having a reasonably low occupation rate of Chinese guests, has seen strong growth in the past 12 months, with hoteliers observing a 21% increase in Chinese guests.
“Countries in South East Asia were also identified as markets that are expected to have significant increased outbound travel in the future. Acknowledging these burgeoning markets, in addition to providing varied services for the distinctive Chinese traveler personas, and will be important in the coming years,” Abhiram added.
The report identified that hotels are focusing their efforts on social media and marketing programs in a bid to attract Chinese travellers, though hotels say their investment in services for Chinese guests has decreased, with only 4 per cent spending more than US$10,000 (MYR 43,000) compared to 12 per cent last year.
The research combines data from more than 3,000 Chinese international travellers and over 3,800 Hotels.com accommodation partners globally with Hotels.com’s own data and other third-party research.