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How Chinese tourists changed over the past decade

12/26/2019| 10:51:12 AM|

The 2010s were the decade that brought mass Chinese tourism to the world and these travelers did not fail to make an impression.

Like digital photography and the climate, Chinese outbound tourism has changed significantly in the past decade, although only one of the three has become objectively worse.

In 2010, a mere 57 million travelers from the Middle Kingdom crossed the nation’s borders in search of an overseas adventure. This year, the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute estimates, that number could reach 180 million, although, admittedly, the prediction was made before unrest took hold in Hong Kong and while “patriotic” (read: domestic) tourism was being promoted to help boost a slowing economy. Still, an additional 120 million-plus people – roughly equivalent to the population of Japan – on the move internationally in 10 years is not to be sniffed it.

However, as the Chinese soon discovered, a larger crowd does not a warm reception make – especially when descending en masse from a convoy of coaches. It did not take long for the image of busloads of boorish bumpkins to take root, destinations holding their nose as what would become the world’s largest tourist market disembarked.

Except, that image isn’t exactly fair. Yes, group travel was the dominant force at the dawn of the decade, popular for its convenience and cost in a nation known for restrictions on independent adventurers – but as early as 2013, travel media company Skift was reporting on the growing trend of solo sightseers. Data from the China National Tourism Administration-backed this up; of the 20 million mainland Chinese who left home to go anywhere but Hong Kong or Macau on holiday in 2011, 37 percent struck off on their own.

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TAGS: outbound travel | Chinese tourist
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