The annual ITB World Travel Trends Report has indicated that Asia is among the major forces driving the international tourism market. According to IPK International, many Asian countries have experienced impressive growth in travel and tourism. In a nutshell, their findings indicate that the Chinese are becoming frequent travellers as their affluent Japanese neighbours are spending considerably less in tourism and hospitality products. Apparently, the Chinese market is now the world’s number one when it comes to travel expenditure. This report also suggests that Chinese tourists rank second for travelling abroad and are fourth for overnight stays.
In 2012 the Chinese citizens have made around 45 million trips abroad and spent approximately 84.4 billion dollars. Overall, international departures from Asia have increased by eight per cent during the first eight months of 2013. It is the Chinese market which has actually contributed towards this trend. There was an astonishing 26 per cent increase in Chinese travelling internationally over the previous year. On the other hand, the Japanese have travelled less (i.e. -2 per cent). For 2014, the Chinese people are expected to travel even more than this year, as departures are forecasted to increase by around 18 per cent.
In a similar vein, this year’s arrivals in Asia were very encouraging. According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), between January and August, international arrivals grew by 6.3 per cent when compared to 2012. There was an increased demand for Southeast Asia and Southern Asia as tourism arrivals grew by 12 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively. There was a growth rate of 4 per cent in the Pacific region. Arrivals in northeast Asia rose by three per cent.
The Chinese market was the most eager to travel among other Asian countries. Their holiday stay (which exceeded four nights) have risen by 28 per cent, whereas short trips / weekend breaks have increased by around 21 per cent. This sharp surge in tourism figures shows that the Chinese have emerged as the world biggest spenders, averaging around USD 1,765 per trip. Apparently, their main reason for travelling abroad is for holiday / vacation purposes. Such trips rose by 30 per cent this year. City breaks and beach holidays also became very popular for this market segment. At six per cent, the business travel market (which also comprises MICE) grew moderately on the previous year.
Typically, the Chinese travelled mainly within Asia, while long-haul trips to Europe and America followed in the second place. Interestingly, this travel boom is set to continue as experts are predicting that the Chinese will be just as eager to travel during 2014. Around 44 per cent of the respondents from China declared that they intended to travel more next year. Although, only seven per cent of Chinese citizens earn more than 15,000 dollars a year, the country’s competitiveness and economic growth prospects are bringing a demographic shift that is characterised by a fast-growing, wealthy middle class. This is in stark contrast to other Asian nations such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. For instance, international trips in Japan fell by an overall two per cent, while overnights and spending dropped by three and six per cent, respectively. To add insult to injury, the business travel market has suffered even worse than holiday trips in Japanese destinations. Generally, there was a downward spiral in demand for long-haul destinations. In 2012, long trips have dropped by around 20 per cent in the Asian continent. This was largely offset by an increase in city breaks and beach holidays. Very few of the respondents from Japan said they wanted to travel more than this year despite Japan’s economy is on the road to recovery. It is likely that the Japanese market will probably stagnate in 2014.
By and large, tourism forecasts are indicating a growing eagerness for travel and tourism over the next few years. This is mainly attributed to the Chinese economic growth and its expanding middle class, that is both educated and young. Moreover, the emerging low cost carriers in the region are making travelling much easier and affordable.
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