Chinese outbound travellers more sophisticated: COTRI

Chinese outbound travellers are increasingly looking for longer-haul destinations away from the mainland, according to China’s Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

Published in the Spring 2016 issue of the COTRI Market Report, the research notes that Chinese outbound travel has increased with double-digit growth in 2015.

According to CLSA analysts, the Chinese thirst for outbound travel is also continuing into 2016. The Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Australia are in particular are seeing the benefits of increased Chinese travel. However, Hong Kong and Macau saw their first drop in Chinese arrival numbers in 2015.

According to COTRI’s director Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt, the Chinese outbound tourism market is starting to see new strategies employed to attract “higher quality” visitors.

“For many destinations and tourism service providers, the focus is shifting from trying to attract as many Chinese tourists as possible towards trying to improve the ‘quality’ of the customers. They are targeting the ‘Second Wave’ customers who invest more time, interest and money into a service or region rather than the package tourists.”

The report also notes a growing trend of beneficial visa policies for Chinese passport holders as one of the main areas where destinations specifically cater to the Chinese market, with 52 countries and regions now offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival regimes to Chinese visitors.

In late March, the Macau government announced that it was not seeking to increase visitors from mainland China nor expand the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) policy, according to Macau’s chief executive Fernando Chui Sai On.

According to official data, Macau noted total visitation declined by 1.2 percent in February, with a 5.2 percent decline in total visitation from mainland China, and mainland IVS visitation down 11.5 percent.

In Australia, CLSA noted the contribution of Chinese visitors to the premium mass market business is estimated at 5-10 percent. However, according to CLSA, “recent strong growth (high-single- to double-digit) in mass-market revenues in Melbourne, Sydney, and Auckland, compared to more moderate Australian retail sales growth suggests that the Chinese visitor contribution may actually be higher, or is growing at a very strong rate.”

The brokerage also noted that Tourism Australia estimated Chinese visitor expenditure grew 45 percent in 2015, which should translate to higher earnings for Australia’s local casinos.

“We expect Chinese visitors to continue to contribute a greater proportion of mass market revenues to Australian casinos,” said CLSA.

“However, while all operators are likely to benefit, we believe Star Entertainment has the best exposure given all of its casinos are in jurisdictions likely to see strong growth in Chinese tourists,” analysts added.