China is the fastest-growing source market for Dubai
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”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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]pitality.com