One of the best indicators of the appetite for Chinese consumers is their travel habits. Since opening up Chinese travellers have been a good barometer of the average person’s economic comfort. When they feel confident they travel and splurge, when they don’t they pull back.
The Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) released its latest Chinese outbound tourism data for Q3 2018, revealing strong year-on-year growth compared with Q3 2017, albeit at a slower rate than seen in the first two quarters of 2018. It’ll be a while before the year end report is ready.
Overall, Q3 2018’s 43 million border crossings represent a 10% year-on-year increase against 2017’s results, while Q1 and Q2 2018’s year-on-year growth rates were 17% and 16% respectively.
COTRI’s recent results bring the total for the first three quarters of 2018 to a combined 123 million border crossings worldwide, a figure 14% higher than 2017’s equivalent. Should Q4 2017’s 37 million Chinese arrivals be matched, COTRI’s forecast total of 160 million annual border crossings for 2018 will be reached. However, factoring in a year-on-year increase of 10% as seen in Q3 2018, this total becomes 164 million.
The most-recent quarter’s lower growth in comparison to the figures posted in the first two quarters of the year can be attributed in part to a gradual slowdown in year-on-year increases in Hong Kong following its strong start to 2018, but weak growth in key destinations including Thailand, Australia, Singapore and Germany among others has also impacted results. The US and UK notably have seen dropoffs in Chinese arrivals, with increased political stability and the fear of potential visa issues exacerbating problems.
Among destinations to have seen success in attracting Chinese arrivals in Q3 2018, Nepal stands out as a leading example having recorded 40,000 arrivals for the quarter (YoY +77%) and a total of 110,000 for the year so far. Should the country be able to maintain its positive course, Nepal could well exceed its record high annual arrivals total of 123,000 set in 2014 before the impact of the 2015 earthquake and recent political instability affected its destination image among the Chinese outbound market.
Further analysis of growth trends in the Chinese outbound travel market, as well as dissection of traveller demographics, purpose of travel, residence and other characteristics can be found within COTRI Analytics.