Chinese outbound tourists will reach 200 million by 2020, double the number of those who visited other countries in 2013. Chinese tourist spending will also triple during the same time period, according to estimates released by Asian brokerage firm CLSA.
The rapid expansion of Chinese outbound tourists is driven by increasing income, more annual leave, visa relaxation, worsening mainland pollution, and an increasingly overloaded domestic tourism destinations.
"Explosive projected growth in outbound Greater China travel numbers offers immense opportunity for countries to benefit from Chinese tourists’ desire for new experiences – from sightseeing to food, to hotels, to gaming and shopping," says Aaron Fischer, head of consumer and gaming research at CLSA. "Tourists will become increasingly savvy, independent and demand high quality experiences and service."
Hong Kong and Macau will continue to be the top international travel destinations. But visitor numbers are estimated to decline from 62% to 45% of total outbound Chinese tourists as holidaymakers seek more exotic destinations.
The U.S. and France received 1.5 million and 1.3 million mainland Chinese visitors respectively in 2012, the largest number on record. CLSA expects travel numbers to hit 5.7 million to the U.S. and 3.9 million to France by 2020.
Luxury goods continue to be highly prized by outbound mainland tourists who make two-thirds of their purchases overseas. Spending by rich Chinese and lavish gift giving resulted in the global luxury-goods sector expanding 41% between 2009 and 2012.
Demand from buyers of Greater China increased 135% over this period, boosting their share of the market from 19% in 2009 to 31% in 2012. CLSA expects this to increase to 50% by 2020 as middle-class mainland Chinese drive the next wave of the luxury market growth.
The Internet will also be a significant beneficiary as experienced travelers increasingly choose to travel independently and book vacations online.