UN World Tourism Organization latest statistics indicate that China’s outbound tourists account for more than one-fifth of total global outbound travel spending, and they spend nearly twice as much as American outbound travelers, who are ranked after China as the world’s 2nd largest spenders.
Singapore-based Zaobao.com reported on February 25 that global tourism growth in the past seven years has outpaced the overall global economic performance, and that international tourism revenues grossed up to USD 7.6 trillion in 2016. In the next decade, about one-fourth of global employment is expected to come from the travel industry, with Chinese tourism being the major driving force.
CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets predicts that by 2021 Chinese tourists will spend an astonishing USD 429 billion in outbound trips each year. It is expected that mainland travelers will seek experiences other than shopping in Hong Kong or going to casinos in Macao. It is estimated that for the following three years, Japan, Thailand, the United States and Australia will top the list of must-go destinations among Chinese tourists. Southeast Asian countries, especially Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, are also likely to have a taste of the pie.
In order to be fully prepared, Southeast Asian countries have invested more than USD 100 billion to build airports, railways, hotels and theme parks. Visa estimates that there are at least 178 new airports being planned in the Asia-Pacific region and hundreds of infrastructure facilities being upgraded. Traditional attractions have lost their competitiveness due to overcrowding, thus fueling the second revolution in the sector – the growing popularity of off-the-beaten-track islands.
In preparation for this trend, Indonesia intends to create 10 "Bali Islands"; Thailand is working with Japan to build high-speed railways to connect the capital city Bangkok and tourist destination Chiang Mai; and Malaysia is building railways to boost the economy and tourism growth in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan along its east coast.