Here’s Jing Travel’s weekly guide to stories providing insight into Chinese travel trends and how they affect the industry’s main players.
In recent years, Hongkongers have recurrently raised concerns of overcrowding by Chinese tourists. Quotas and a tourist tax have been suggested to tackle the double digit increases in mainland travellers, but now it seems another deterrence is at play; political protest. HSBC estimates 350,000 mainlanders will avoid Hong Kong in 2019 as demonstrations continue on the island. The year-on-year tourism numbers will continue to increase, predicted growth of 9 percent, but at a slower rate. Singaporeans have also showed a reluctance to travel to Hong Kong, some estimating a 50 per cent fall in bookings.
In a bid to boost Chinese tourist numbers, numerous countries are rethinking their visa policies. Iran is poised to waive visas altogether in the hope of driving a 3,000 percent increase, Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers announced a visa free policy for Chinese tourists starting Aug 1, and Brazil is considering accepting Chinese travelers who already have visas from the U.S., Canada, or Australia. Serbia is prime example of a country benefiting from a visa-free relationship with China, the south-eastern European country launched the policy in Jan 2017 and within a year had doubled the number of Chinese visitors.
When thinking about the beneficiaries of Chinese tourist money in the U.S., states such as California and New York typically spring to mind. But Hawaii has become a popular destination for Chinese travellers and, as a result, is suffering in the current trade war standoff. The Hawaiian Tourism Authority has revealed a 36 percent decrease in the number of Chinese visitors and although Chinese constitute a mere two percent of the island’s total visitors, they are valuable and spend more than their Asian counterparts (around $350 per day).
UP AND DOWN
South Korea and Japan saw more visitors from China in the first half of 2019, while the popularity of Vietnam and Thailand diminished. The increase of Chinese visitors to South Korea follows the cooling of mild political tensions and has led to new flight routes being established between the two countries. By contrast, Chinese and Vietnamese relations are deteriorating in part due to Vietnam’s developing partnerships with the US. Thailand, which has long been a go-to Chinese getaway, is experiencing the negative effects of 2018 ferry accident in Phuket with Chinese arrivals having dipped.