They have everything to be the most desired market. A middle class that is growing at the rate of many millions a year, a will for discovery, perhaps explained by decades of closure of the country, and of course, a population of many millions. “China, a rising star,” was one of the hot topics of the last day of the World Travel & Tourism Council, which took place in Seville, Spain.
For Alex Dichter, Senior Partner Mckinsey & Company, there is no doubt: Chinese tourists are “going to be the driver of tourism.” And the numbers are there to confirm, something that Macau already knows, but others are only now starting to discover. And it seems more exciting by the day. Last year almost 150 million Chinese left the country to travel the world. “In less than two decades, outbound Chinese travel has rocketed by over 1000%, and is forecasted to hit 400 million mark by 2030,” says the WTCC. And this, says Alex Dichter, at a time when the Chinese economy has been cooling down.
The evolution of this market is exciting for the tourism industry. If you still think that Chinese tourists want to travel to go shopping, think again. It was so, in fact, but now it is less. “It went from first to fifth place,” according to a survey conducted by Dichter’s management consulting firm.
Xiang Li, Professor & Director of the U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism and Hospitality Research, Temple University, explains the apparent phenomenon: “Initially, travel from China was relatively rare, so tourists wanted to be stranded with goods. This is no longer the case today. These days Chinese tourists are becoming more comfortable with traveling. They want to relax, have fun.” This might explain the first place in the survey quoted by Dichter: “Nature.”
The Chinese, according to Terry von Bibra, appointed in 2016 by Alibaba Group to be its Europe General Manager, “Like to plan holidays better than Americans or Europeans.” And they prefer to do almost everything from their mobile phone. “In China it is not mobile first, but mobile only,” he says. Again, “an amazing evolution” in such short time.
Moreover, investors and entrepreneurs, many of them present in Seville, know that the future of the industry will see greater growth in developing countries.
Javier Andrino, International Marketing & Luxury Development Director of El Corte Inglés, points out other numbers. Over the next 25 years developed countries will grow from the current US$30 trillion to 34 trillion, while developing ones will jump from US$12 trillion today to 36 trillion. And a good slice will be Chinese, which explains the strong bet that Europe has been making to attract more and more tourists of the rising star.
* Project Asia Corp. was invited by WTCC to the event in Seville