In­bound abound

China is the fastest-grow­ing source mar­ket for Dubai

Hotelier Middle East - - COMMENT & OPINION -

There is ab­so­lutely no doubt that Chi­nese res­i­dents have taken on touris­tic travel more se­ri­ously since last year. In the first year of the new mil­len­nium, a mod­est 10.5 mil­lion over­seas trips were made by Chi­nese res­i­dents. Fast for­ward to 2017, and the fig­ure was 145 mil­lion – a stu­pen­dous in­crease of 1,380%. Truly a mind-bog­gling surge in­deed, by any stretch of imag­i­na­tion.

Al­beit, the fig­ure of 145 mil­lion for­eign trips by Chi­nese na­tion­als is slightly mis­lead­ing. Con­sider the re­al­ity: it in­cludes jour­neys made to China’s spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gions of Hong Kong and Ma­cau, as well as neigh­bour­ing Tai­wan. These three ac­counted for 69.5 mil­lion of the ‘over­seas jour­neys’ made in 2017.

This is only the tip of the ice­berg, con­sid­er­ing that just 7% of Chi­nese cit­i­zens – or 99 mil­lion peo­ple ac­tu­ally pos­sess a pass­port.

Now com­pare this fig­ure to two other coun­tries glob­ally — around 40% of their coun­ter­parts in USA, and 76% in UK, ac­tu­ally hold a pass­port.

Clearly there is tremen­dous po­ten­tial for growth, con­sid­er­ing China’s pop­u­la­tion of 1.415 bil­lion. The China Out­bound Tourism Re­search In­sti­tute (COTRI) pre­dicts that over­seas trips by the coun­try’s res­i­dents will fur­ther in­crease from 2017’s fig­ure of 145 mil­lion to more than 400 mil­lion by 2030.

By fair es­ti­mates, out of the 600 mil­lion ad­di­tional trips in in­ter­na­tional tourism fore­casted by UNWTO, bring­ing the to­tal from 1.2 bil­lion in 2017 to 1.8 bil­lion by 2030, it is pre­dicted that al­most 50% of them will orig­i­nate in China. The coun­try will ac­count for a quar­ter of in­ter­na­tional tourism. Now that is great po­ten­tial for all coun­tries around the globe who wish to pro­mote their in­bound tourism mar­ket.

When it comes to spend­ing, the trend noted so far is that the Chi­nese pre­fer to economise on food, ac­com­mo­da­tion and trans­porta­tion, but they tend to be lav­ish when it comes to shop­ping.

Given the global sit­u­a­tion, it is no sur­prise that Chi­nese tourists are trav­el­ing to Dubai in in­creas­ing num­bers in the wake of the in­tro­duc­tion of sev­eral travel in­cen­tives by the govern­ment in­clud­ing visa-on-ar­rival for Chi­nese cit­i­zens.

Dubai has been wit­ness­ing a big surge of 119% in Chi­nese overnight vis­i­tors since 2014 with a year-on-year in­crease of 41.4% overnight Chi­nese vis­i­tors in 2017 com­pared to 2016.

Dubai’s Depart­ment of Tourism and Com­merce Mar­ket­ing (Dubai Tourism) has a clearly planned, two-fold ap­proach to en­gag­ing Chi­nese tourists. While land­mark part­ner­ships, in­vest­ments and mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties have been un­der­taken in 48 cities across China, Dubai Tourism has part­nered with a city-level China-readi­ness strat­egy in Dubai to en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence of Chi­nese tourists.

Dubai Tourism is also work­ing to­wards sev­eral projects con­cen­trat­ing on in­no­va­tion and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

Pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tor col­lab­o­ra­tion on ac­tiv­i­ties such as city­wide Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tions, and up­skilling teams to be bet­ter able to cater to Chi­nese trav­eller re­quests are some of the key ini­tia­tives on this front.

In ad­di­tion, through Dubai Col­lege of Tourism, an en­tity of Dubai Tourism, some 200 guides have been trained in Man­darin.

The in­tro­duc­tion of visa-on-ar­rival for Chi­nese na­tion­als in 2016, work­ing in con­junc­tion with the in­crease in air ca­pac­ity by na­tional car­ri­ers from China — cur­rently stand­ing at 30 flights a week, a 13% in­crease in non-stop seat ca­pac­ity in 2017 — has also con­trib­uted to rapid growth.

Over 760,000 Chi­nese tourists vis­ited Dubai last year, while about 258,000 Chi­nese vis­ited Dubai in the first quar­ter of 2018, up 12 per cent year-on-year.

China is the world’s num­ber one source mar­ket for tourism with 129 mil­lion out­bound trips in 2017, ac­cord­ing to re­search by Ctrip.

Cur­rently, the GCC at­tracts 1.9% of China’s to­tal tourist out­bound mar­ket. The up­ward trend is ex­pected to con­tinue as 154 mil­lion Chi­nese tourists are ex­pected to travel abroad in 2018, fol­lowed by 244 mil­lion in 2022.

I truly be­lieve and hope that all the tourism busi­nesses, stake­hold­ers and other re­lated in­dus­try op­er­a­tors would be ready in time to wel­come the ad­di­tional vol­ume that would be gen­er­ated in due course.

Clearly the fu­ture looks great for tourism in this part of the globe in times to come. Ex­cit­ing times lie ahead!

Given the global sit­u­a­tion, it is no sur­prise that Chi­nese tourists are trav­el­ing to Dubai in in­creas­ing num­bers in the wake of the in­tro­duc­tion of sev­eral travel in­cen­tives by the govern­ment, in­clud­ing visa on ar­rival”


With more than 28 years of hos­pi­tal­ity ex­pe­ri­ence glob­ally, Naim Maadad is the found­ing CEO of Gates Hos­pi­tal­ity, which owns and op­er­ates hos­pi­tal­ity con­cepts in­clud­ing Ul­tra Brasserie, The Black Lion Pub­lic House & Din­ing, Bistro des Arts, Re­form So­cial & Grill, Publique, and Folly by Nick & Scott. It also has own­er­ship of Six Senses Zighy Bay.

Email: [email protected]­pi­tal­

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