China is world’s largest outbound travel market for the third year runnning, as the growth rate for outbound travel volume is expected to reach 16% this year, pushing outbound travel volume to above the 120 million mark, with total overseas expenditure at and RMB1.1 trillion (approx: US$171 billion), according to the China Tourism Academy.
In November this year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the State Council: “As our people have more cash, they want to enjoy a better life. We cannot limit what they shop abroad, nor should we seal our borders. Instead, we should allow consumers the freedom of choice.”
China’s outbound travel continued to surge this year. “Outbound travel has been maintaining at above 50% of the total leisure tourism,” Ctrip’s CEO James Liang said. Ctrip has organized several million outbound trips traveling on tours, FITs or cruises. The most popular destinations are Japan, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, the Maldives and Italy. Over half of the most popular destinations are shopping meccas.
“Strong performance in the China’s stock market contributed to high spending by tourists in the first half of the year. Spending slowed in summer as non-shopping tours for students and seniors were mainstream during the period, and the stock market crashed. Spending power rebounded in the second half of the year following the depreciation of the euro and the Australian dollar. Overall, tourist spending has stayed strong in general this year,” Mr. Liang said.
As Christmas approaches and festive sales are on in many countries like Italy and the USA, the trend of Christmas shopping abroad in recent years will be apparent again. Tuniu’s outbound long-haul vacation product operations manager Dapeng Gu said Europe and the US are the main destinations for Christmas shopping trips, and bookings for Christmas tours are more than 70% full by mid-November, many of the travelers are taking their annual leave.
One industry observer said that a large number of middle-class Chinese are making regular shopping trips to the USA since the introduction of the 10-year visa policy. With US malls offering 30%-50% discounts in sales in December, some OTAs and tour operators are arranging multi-outlet shopping tours with coupons for their customers.
On the other hand, pleasant summer weather in the southern hemisphere during the Chinese Spring Festival in February will draw in visitors, and favorable exchange rates against Australia and New Zealand will deliver 15% savings for shopping in those destinations. Some tour guides report that certain items are cheaper in Australia than in Europe and tour group members are given ample time to shop at major malls like Outlets, DFS and David Johns.
In Europe, winter sales will be on in France, Italy and Spain in January and February and popular stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps Department Store Paris will extend business hours and will stay open on the weekend during the sales season.
(Translation by David)