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Nielsen and Alipay today jointly issued Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trends: 2017 Survey, providing in-depth analysis and deeper insights into the current consumption and payment behavior of Chinese tourists overseas, as well as assessing future trends.

According to the survey, a growing number of Chinese tourists expect they will utilise mobile payment methods when travelling, bringing their cashless lifestyle overseas.

Outbound Chinese tourism has enjoyed explosive growth over the past decade, and this trend has continued. China National Tourism Administration statistics show that Chinese tourists made 131 million trips overseas in 2017, an increase of 7% from 2016. Amongst these, Chinese tourists continue to increase spending during their trips. Data from the International Association of Tour Managers shows that overseas travel spending by Chinese tourists reached USD 261.1 billion in 2016, an increase of 4.5% year-on-year, and ranking first worldwide.

As European travel routes become better developed for Chinese tourists, nearly 40% of respondents traveled there last year. However the report finds that the UK is lagging behind France when it comes to attracting Chinese tourists. While France was the 10th most visited country in the world by Chinese tourists, the UK missed out on a top ten position.

Ease of payments is also a leading factor when it comes to key purchase decisions for Chinese tourists:

  • During their most recent overseas trip, 65% of Chinese tourists paid for their expenses via mobile payment, while a mere 11% of their non-Chinese counterparts used mobile payments.
  • Meanwhile, 91% sampled claimed they would show greater willingness to spend and shop if overseas merchants accepted Chinese mobile payments.
  • Chinese tourists primarily use mobile payments for shopping, dining and purchasing entry tickets to tourist attractions when traveling overseas.
  • Chinese tourists primarily use mobile payments for shopping, dining and visits to tourist attractions when traveling overseas.

Other Key findings of the survey include:

Chinese tourism presents a lucrative opportunity for businesses:

  • Chinese tourists who took part in the survey visited 2.1 countries or regions in 2016-2017, and expect to visit an average of 2.7 countries or regions in 2018. Chinese tourists exhibit stronger purchasing power than non-Chinese tourists, spending an average of over £500 per person towards shopping on their most recent overseas trip. Non-Chinese tourists comparatively spend an average of less than £350.
  • As European travel routes become better developed for Chinese tourists, nearly 40% of respondents traveled there last year. However, while France was the 10th most visited country in the world by Chinese tourists, the UK missed out on a top ten position.

 Price is not a decisive factor when choosing travel destinations or tourist attractions:

  • When selecting travel destinations and tourist attractions, Chinese tourists care most about the beauty and uniqueness of tourist attractions (56%), followed by the local environment, which includes safety (47%), ease of visa procedures (45%) and friendliness of locals to tourists (35%). As disposable income continues to grow, cost is only the 5th biggest consideration for Chinese tourists.
  • In comparison, cost is the second biggest factor for non-Chinese tourists, the report uncovered.

Li Wang, Head of Alipay EMEA, Ant Financial commented, “If UK merchants are to embrace the opportunities that come with increased tourism from China, it’s crucial that they get into the mindset of Chinese travellers. Providing products and services that are suited to their preferences is the best way for businesses including shops, restaurants, hotels and entertainment providers to market to Chinese tourists. But as this research shows, how they purchase is as significant as what they purchase for many Chinese tourists. When travelling, Chinese nationals expect the ease and simplicity of seamless, instant mobile payments, which they have access to at home; consequently UK merchants that embrace mobile payments will have more appeal to Chinese customers.”

Vishal Bali, Managing Director of Nielsen China said, “China has embraced mobile payments faster than any country, and will continue to lead the global charge in this regard. Mobile payment is on the rise globally, and will continue to support greater connectivity and efficiency across the commercial ecosystem.”