Where do high-net-worth individuals from China plan on traveling in 2019? Well, according to the joint The Chinese Luxury Traveler 2018 report from Hurun Research Institute and ILTM China, Europe is once again the top macro-destination for wealthy Chinese outbound travel. Thirty-nine percent of affluent respondents selected Europe as their top preferred destination, while the Americas came in second with 36 percent, growing by 5 percentage points over last year.

But the most impressive showing on this year’s report was from Africa. Last year, only 15 percent of respondents labeled the continent as their preferred destination, while that figure reached a whopping 29 percent this year. “South & Southeast Asia” and “Japan & South Korea” came in next, respectively.

The most popular travel “theme” coming from respondents this year also changed. The majority cited the desire to travel “somewhere new”—a motivator that grew by 24 percentage points to reach 37 percent (something that might help explain the rising popularity of Africa this year). “Polar exploration” was second, falling from first place the previous year.  “Arts and culture” came in at number five this year with 15.9 percent, rising by 5.9 percent from the previous year.

The top individual luxury destinations for affluent individual travelers were, in order: the Maldives, Japan, France, Hawaii, Australia, the United States, Dubai, Switzerland, Thailand, and Italy.

Europe and the Americas once again took the top spots on this year’s The Chinese Luxury Traveler report, but Africa saw the most impressive growth

Of course, all this tourism data doesn’t mean that waves of rich Chinese tourists will be traveling to Africa in 2019. The participants in the survey represent an extremely small demographic within the Chinese tourism market, as all the participants have an average individual net worth of $2.9 million (RMB 20 million) and spend on average around $50,770 on travel annually.

Moreover, the data sample used to generate these findings is extremely small with only 236 respondents. But this doesn’t mean the data isn’t informative. With such a large popularity increase in travel to Africa, in particular, it’s hard to deny that the continent has become much more attractive among the most wealthy of Chinese tourists. Unfortunately, while there is a bevy of incredible sights all throughout Africa, traveling there from China is expensive and out of reach for the vast majority of Chinese travelers. High-end, luxury travelers may actually be the best bet for African destinations that want to boost revenue. These tourists are also more profitable per person, which is helpful.

Another factor that the survey made clear is that wealthy Chinese travelers are more often women (70 percent of respondents were women).

Wealthy Chinese travelers are more often female

Such a small sample size annually means that preferences can change rapidly. For example, the polar regions came in at number seven this year with 12 percent, despite checking in as the top travel choice last year with 23 percent of respondents. Island and beach-oriented getaways in Oceania also slumped compared to the previous year. That region fell 9 percentage points year-on-year in popularity to 17 percent.

The report also makes some interesting notes on differences between high net worth individual travelers from first- and lower-tier cities in China. For example, over the next three years, 38 percent of travelers from first-tier cities will likely prioritize arts and culture as a tourism activity, while only 18 percent of travelers from lower-tier cities will do the same.

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