Where Are All Those Chinese Travelers Going?


In 2012, China exceeded the US and Germany to become the world’s largest source market for outbound tourism by expenditure(1). Capturing a share of this growing market has become a top priority for tourism boards and travel suppliers alike. According to the China Tourism Academy(2), the Chinese outbound travel market is estimated to reach 94 million trips in 2013, up 15% year-on-year. These travellers are estimated to spend USD 117.6 billion (SGD 147.1 billion) on their trips, up 20% year-on-year.

Why does this matter if you’re not a Chinese traveller?  Because the most popular destinations will change, the new dollars generated by more attention will spur new opportunities in these destinations and well, if you’re and Elite Traveler you just care what’s going on in the travel industry.

Top 20 Most Popular Outbound Destinations for Chinese Travellers

Chinese Travellers like regional destinations but they’re also eager to venture much further afield.

Most Popular Outbound Destinations for Chinese Travellers (Based on July and August 2012 vs. 2013 unique visitors on DaoDao)

Lily Cheng, Managing Director, TripAdvisor China, said, “While Hong Kong and Macau continue to draw tens of millions of mainland tourists a year given their unique roles as duty-free shopping havens supported by easy transport links, family-friendly attractions and onward air routes to other international destinations, we are definitely seeing a shift in the market and mainland travellers have started to look further afield into destinations like Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and beyond.”

Lily Cheng continues, “This new generation of Chinese outbound travellers is making their own decisions about where to go, where to stay and what to do by doing their own research online, going beyond the old stereotype of big buses of group tourists. These travellers are savvy, sophisticated and do make an effort to understand and respect the local culture by doing a lot of online research before their trip. As they explore outside of mainland China, they are deliberately seeking out websites that have an established international presence to find more deals and more content.”

Based on unique visitors recorded in July and August 2013 on daodao.com, the top 20 most popular destinations are as follows (comparing year-on-year growth for July and August 2012 versus July and August 2013):

  1. Hong Kong, China (50%)
  2. Phuket, Thailand (250%)
  3. Taiwan (350%)
  4. Bangkok, Thailand (270%)
  5. Paris, France (360%)
  6. Dubai, UAE (210%)
  7. Macau, China (50%)
  8. Seoul, South Korea (180%)
  9. Singapore (170%)
  10. Bali, Indonesia (310%)
  11. Rome, Italy (180%)
  12. Chiang Mai, Thailand (180%)
  13. New York, United States (280%)
  14. London, United Kingdom (120%)
  15. Jeju Island, South Korea (570%)
  16. Boracay, Philippines (360%)
  17. Kyoto, Japan (580%)
  18. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (550%)
  19. Hanoi, Vietnam (510%)
  20. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (190%)

Within the Top 20 destinations, Kyoto (Japan), Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia), Hanoi (Vietnam) and Jeju Island (South Korea) exhibited the highest year-on-year growth at high triple digits. Outside of the Top 20, destinations on the rise with over 4 times year-on-year growth from DaoDao users include Siem Reap (Cambodia), Pattaya (Thailand), Sabah (Malaysia) and Berlin (Germany).


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