In the first three months of 2016, 30.2 million outbound border-crossings were made from mainland China, according to China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI). The figure represents an increase of only 2.4% from the 29.5 million made during the same period in 2015. This is the lowest growth rate reported since the beginning of outbound tourism from China in 1997 and the first single-digit growth rate in the current decade.
The surprisingly small year-on-year average growth rate of 2.4% calculated for the first quarter of 2016 masks two very different trends:
The arrival numbers for Hong Kong fell dramatically by 15% from 12.3 million to 10.4 million and slipped in Macau by 2% from 5.0 million to 4.9 million, resulting in an overall decrease of 11% for China’s Special Administrative Regions (SARs) in Q1 2016.
In the rest of the world, however, this loss of almost two million arrivals was cancelled out by an increase of about the same amount of the combined arrival figures for Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan and the UAE.
Some destinations in South-east Asia saw arrivals from Beijing shoot through the roof in Q1 2016 amid heightened efforts to tap the Chinese market.
iven the strong increases in arrivals from China for many countries especially in Europe and North America, it is possible to calculate a growth rate of 22% for the rest of the world, resulting in an overall growth rate of 2.4%.
The market share of the Hong Kong and Macau SARs fell from 59% to 51%. With the negative trend for Hong Kong and Macau likely to continue, the second quarter of 2016 will most likely be the first time that the SARs are no longer responsible for more than half of all departures from Mainland China.
Outbound traffic from Beijing to Vietnam, for example, was up 208.3 per cent to 22,531 while the Philippines received 12,624 visitors from the Chinese capital, a staggering 366.2 percent increase.
Malaysia also saw an improving trend, having rebounded from negative growth and welcoming a sustained level of Beijing visitors at 32,216 .
Similarly, in Malaysia, Air Asia is increasing its Beijing-Kuala Lumpur service from seven to 11 flights per week starting this summer.