The unstoppable rise of the Chinese traveller

Where are they going? What are they doing? What do they want? How are things changing? Questions asked (and answered!) by MultiConnexions PR & Social Media Manager, Katrina Hall

Chinese are travelling further, wider, and more frequently than ever and, as the Chinese chengyu poetry idiom goes – The four seas are their home (四海为家 sì hǎi wéi jiā). A quick look at some statistics around the rise and rise of the Chinese traveller crystalises this truth even further. China is now undoubtedly a leading nation when it comes to traveling.

Visitors to Australia from mainland China now outnumber visitors from New Zealand, long the top source of tourists to Australia. Almost 1.4 million Chinese tourists visited Australia in the year ending February 2018. Travellers have made more than $130 million worth of trips.

Looking at data from Tourism Research Australia regarding caravan or camping alone also shows astonishing growth of 112 per cent in the year to September 2017.

And the Australia China Business Council recently predicted that total Chinese visitor numbers to Australia will hit 3.3 million a year by 2026. That figure is around triple the 1 million Chinese tourists who came to Australia in 2016.

Red Money
Not only are Chinese travelling more, they are also spending more. With a higher than average disposable income, Chinese tourists spend the most of any group in Australia, and they spend 3 times more than mainstream customers.

In fact last year, over $9.8 billion was spent by Chinese tourists in Australia alone, and worldwide they spent an eyewatering estimated US $115 billion.

The rise and rise of Chinese spending has been at breakneck speed too. A decade ago, Chinese tourists accounted for less than 5 per cent of global travel spending. Today, it’s approaching 25 per cent. One in every four dollars! The opportunities are bringing an economic boost to destinations that cater to their habits and tastes. And with the next generation of Fu Er Dai* 富二代 (literally: “rich second generation”) young Chinese splashing the cash more than their parents, the future looks bright.

What’s in their shopping bags?
Although they are spending a lot of money, the typical Chinese shopper places great importance on value vs. price. Bundled pricing works well, but add-ons to an advertised price don’t typically work with this audience.

Holiday-makers have strong and defined shopping habits, often carrying back bags full of presents overseas to give their friends and family. Chinese holidaymakers often come to Australia with very specific shopping requirements incl. health and luxury items.

Australian products (and Australia!) are often perceived as being high quality, clean, green, natural and healthy so this kind of messaging works well for many retailers.

Unique needs
Chinese tourists differ to other tourists in a number of key ways.

Here are a few:

  • Highly language-dependent
  • Prefer an indoor lifestyle as opposed to the outdoors
  • Love city life and metro-shopping
  • Culturally rooted – they celebrate and love their cultural events
  • Family-oriented – family are very influential
  • Fully Independent Travellers (FIT) are a small but growing segment of Chinese travellers as around 40 per cent of Chinese tourists travel on a package tour, according to the UN World Tourism Organisation.
  • Love their country-of-origin food while travelling

For further advice and insights into targeting Chinese travellers, and the Chinese diaspora in Australia, contact MultiConnexions today.

* Fu Er Dai (富二代) refers to the children of the nouveau riche in China. Although it was originally a pejorative term invoking social and moral problems associated with modern Chinese society, the term is becoming more common to refer to young rich Chinese people.

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