Thematic Report

Chinese tourists expand their horizons

by Aaron Fischer / Jan 1, 2016

China’s outbound tourist numbers are on track to surge to 200 million by 2020, providing opportunities for growth in markets across the globe.


The third in a series of reports into Chinese outbound tourism, CLSA’s 2016 report reveals that while growth in outbound trips has slowed, our target of 200million trips by 2020 is still realistic.

Our 2016 survey reveals that, besides shopping, expanding cultural horizons is now high on Chinese tourists wish lists. Top destinations are South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Europe, the USA and Australia.

Chinese tourists are willing to spend more on travel and related experiences other than shopping. Experiencing cultural activities, enjoying the nice environment, relaxing, spending time with family and friends and widening their horizon are becoming more important goals. This supports the shift away from Hong Kong, which is primarily seen as a shopping paradise.

CLSA still expects 200m outbound trips by 2020 which now implies a 9% Cagr, down from 11% in last year’s Social pressures report due to the higher base. We expect trips to Hong Kong and Macau to average 3% growth. However, we expect growth to all other markets to average 16% over the coming five years.

As flagged in last year’s report, we are structurally negative on Hong Kong due to a lack of new attractions, increased competition, the strengthening HK dollar and negative attitudes towards mainlanders. While Macau is doing more to improve its tourist offering, it still faces challenges to attract non-gamblers. As a result, places like Japan, Australia, Korea and the USA will see more Chinese arrivals.

Key growth drivers and risks Key growth drivers remain improved affordability, easing travel restrictions and a greater desire to travel. The low base is also a factor with outbound travel penetration at only 9% in China vs 37% in Korea and 56% in Taiwan. Key risks to our forecasts include lower income growth, a weaker yuan, random shocks like terrorist attacks, political instability, natural disasters or health scares.

See the CLSA press release on this report.