Changing trends in outbound Chinese tourism favors seafood restaurateurs

Published on
October 4, 2019

Seafood restaurants and vendors in Italy, Japan, and Thailand will get crowded this week as China, the world’s top source of tourists, takes its annual holiday. 

Those three countries will be the primary overseas destinations for Chinese travelers during this year’s Golden Week, the week-long break commencing with National Day, according to research by leading local online travel agency, Ctrip.

And changing Chinese travel trends mean restaurateurs and hotels in destination countries will see more spending in coming years, according to Victoria Wang, a market analyst at Shanghai-based market research consultancy OC&C Strategy.   

“Millennials and Generation Z now account for the majority of Chinese tourists traveling during Golden Week, and they have different travelling behavior and preferences compared to travelers from previous generations” Wang told SeafoodSource.

Younger travelers are much more willing to spend on experiences like local dining, Wang said.

“They are likely to allocate a significant travel budget to [food and beverages], entertainment, and accommodation, even though shopping could still be one of the key priorities during their travel,” she said.   

China’s earlier tourist surge was dominated by groups led by travel guides with an emphasis on shopping, budget hotels, and Chinese dining. According to OC&C research, 33 percent of young Chinese travelers are now making their own travel arrangements independently, compared to 20 percent of older travelers.

Ongoing protests have removed Hong Kong from its long-held position as the top destination for mainland Chinese tourists. The bulk of China’s outbound visitors are now heading to regional destinations, with Thailand in the top three destinations in 2018, underlining its appeal among first-time travelers in particular.

Overseas spending by China’s tourists in 2018 has been estimated to be valued between USD 120 billion and USD 160 billion (EUR 109.4 billion and EUR 145.9 billion), though the figures vary between official records and bank payment data, making China the top source of tourist spending globally. Tourists from China made a total of 140 million outbound trips in 2018, up 13.5 percent from the previous year's 129 million, according to the China Tourism Academy. 

Increased spending on travel and shopping is partly why China’s household debt grew from 49 percent in 2017 to 52 percent of GDP in 2018. Spending by its tourists is also why China’s once-famed balance of payments surplus has steadily eroded in recent years.

At home, China’s food and beverage market will grow by an average 9.6 percent annually between 2017 and 2022 according to a study cited by Xin Kai International Brand Management Co., in a statement seeking new franchisees to invest in its stores.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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