Chinese tourists have always been enthusiastic world travelers. But the Covid 19 pandemic put a pause on the travel plans of many throughout the APAC region. With the travel restrictions now lifted, tourism is making a big comeback—albeit with a few changes.
We explore how Chinese tourists plan to travel in 2023 and what merchants should prepare for as they welcome tourists back into their restaurants and shops.
1. Understand that post-pandemic, travel preferences have shifted
Many people in Asia plan to travel, but not far from home.1 About 40% of Chinese tourists reported that they expect to undertake outbound travel for their next leisure trip with Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Japan as the top overseas destinations.1 And with 87% of respondents claiming that they plan to spend more or maintain their level of travel spending, the numbers already show that this population will be defining what it looks like to travel within Asia this year.
Generational preferences are shifting, too. Merchants should keep in mind that Chinese millennials and Gen Z are seeking localized, experience-oriented trips versus the bus tours older generations gravitated towards.1
2. Chinese Tourism Spend is Rebounding
Before the pandemic, Chinese tourists spent $253 billion over 170 million trips abroad.2 This was affected greatly by travel restrictions, which contributed to a 70% decline in global tourism.2 In 2023, Chinese tourism spend is expected to rebound in a big way with spend predicted at around $168 billion.2
While outbound tourism spend will not yet be at pre-pandemic levels, local merchants in popular destination geographies can prepare for a gradual increase in Chinese tourists over the coming months. Much of the spending will be on shopping (21%), dining (19%), accommodation (19%). activities (16%) and visiting local attractions.3
3. Sustainability and Responsible Travel—Changes in Consumer Behavior
Merchants in destination cities might also stand to benefit from shifts happening in consumer behavior, such as the movement towards sustainable tourism, a desire for cultural experiences and a focus on safe and affordable travel options. For operators that prioritize environmental conservation and social responsibility, it could be an opportunity to gain a competitive edge in attracting more tourists hoping to use their budgets in environmentally friendly and socially conscious ways.
A restaurant, for example, might take to social media to promote their menu items with ingredients sourced from local farms. This promotion helps tourists better plan their travel stops and keeps the merchant top-of-mind.
4. Utilize updated payments technology to provide familiar experiences
New forms of tourism come with new kinds of payment expectations. Merchants can improve satisfaction4 and make checkout quick and easy for customers by enabling the latest mobile payment options. Offering services like “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) can be especially effective in bringing in younger customers. Building customer loyalty through exclusive offers developed with a payments partner can help keep them coming back.
5. Opportunity for foreign luxury goods makers is on the horizon
Before the pandemic, China’s presence was felt heavily in the foreign luxury goods market. The industry in Paris, Milan, and London was practically sustained by tourists from this region. One luxury goods seller in France reported that 90% of his clients were Chinese5 before shutdowns occurred. With tourists able to visit luxury goods destinations to spend again, sellers in these areas should be ready to capitalize on this opportunity.
Chen, Guang, Zi Chen, Steve Saxon, and Jackey Yu. “Outlook for China Tourism 2023: Light at the End of the Tunnel.” McKinsey & Company, May 9, 2023. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/travel-logistics-and-infrastructure/our-insights/outlook-for-china-tourism-2023-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel.
- Pershikov, Alexander. “Council Post: Preparing for a Rise of Chinese Tourists and Their Global Impact.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, March 27, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/03/24/preparing-for-a-rise-of-chinese-tourists-and-their-global-impact/?sh=281003ee105c.
- Rep. Outbound Rebound 2023: The Return of Chinese Travelers. FINN Partners, CSG Research, March 30, 2023. https://www.finnpartners.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Outbound-Rebound-2023-The-Return-of-Chinese-Travelers_compressed.pdf.
- “7 Consejos Para La Recuperación Del Comercio Minorista: Cómo Conseguir ...” Discover Global Network. Accessed March 21, 2023. https://grow.discoverglobalnetwork.com/docs/consejos-para-atraer-consumidores-a-la-tienda.pdf.
- Feng, Emily. “Tourist Sites around the World Are Preparing for a Surge in Chinese Tourists.” NPR. NPR, January 8, 2023. https://www.npr.org/2023/01/08/1147737184/tourist-sites-around-the-world-are-preparing-for-a-surge-in-chinese-tourists.
The information provided herein is sponsored by Discover® Global Network. It is intended for informational purposes, and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.