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The changing demographics of travel


The global tourism industry is in the midst of a huge shift in demographics which mirrors the geopolitical and economic shifts throughout the world.

The past decade has witnessed significant geopolitical and economic upheavals all over the world. The developed world, which has enjoyed decades of unprecedented growth and prosperity, has stagnated economically and suffered bouts of recessions and bubble economics. During this time, the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China (the BRIC countries) and other emerging countries have accumulated a tremendous amount of wealth. The most powerful and influential of these is China. The increasing desire of their population for Western style consumerism as a result of their improved standard of living is causing a tectonic shift in the global economic order from a Western and pre-dominantly English speaking economic framework toward a pluralistic one equally weighted with emerging economies.

Major turns in economic realities always present tremendous opportunities for those enterprises who are well positioned to engage with these emerging markets. The conventional Western and English oriented strategy which has served the travel industry so well is becoming increasingly ineffective and runs the risk of a business missing out on new opportunities.



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Seismic shift in the tourism industry


54 million outbound Chinese tourists in 2010 spending US $48 billion; highest spend per visitor in the U.S. and Europe

Although outbound tourists from developed economies especially the English speaking countries of the U.S.A and the U.K. have stabilized from the impact of the global financial crisis of 2008, the rebound has been tepid and will be constrained due to demographic and economic reasons. In direct contrast, outbound travel from the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries continues to grow – especially from China. Thanks to the fundamental strengths of their economies, this trend is sustainable and will continue to grow. In particular, the growth of outbound Chinese tourists has been nothing short of stunning, and is causing a fundamental shift in marketing strategies for all countries.


The impact of Chinese tourists


Of the four BRIC countries, the Chinese outbound tourism industry has experienced a seismic shift in recent years, and has had a major impact on the major tourist destinations worldwide.  Consider the following:



  • Total outbound tourists: 54 million (2010), 57 million (2011 estimated)
  • Total dollar spent: US $48 billion (2010), $US 55 billion (2011 estimated)
  • China has moved into third place behind the U.S. and Germany, overtaking Japan, France and the UK, in terms of top international tourism spenders.
  • The WTO predicts Chinese tourists will reach 100 million by 2020 and that China will become the largest tourist exporting country.



  • Since the removal of travel restrictions in 2008, Chinese tourists to the country reached over one million in 2010. The number is expected to reach 2 million by 2015 and outnumber all other tourists combined.
  • An average Chinese tourist stays 23 days in the country and spends US $7,200, significantly higher than the overall average of $4,000 spent by all tourists.



  • 2.5 million Chinese tourists visited Europe in 2010, up from 2 million in 2009
  • on average, Chinese tourists spent 744 euros on tax-free shopping in 2010 (vs Russians - 368 euros, U.S. - 554 euros, Japanese - 521 euros)
  • Chinese tourists account for 30 percent of the luxury goods market in the U.K., followed by Russians, Arabs and Japanese, with British making up only 15% of the market.
  • In 2008, Chinese tourists passed all other nationalities as the biggest shoppers in France.



  • China has surpassed the United Kingdom (UK) as Australia’s most valuable tourism market.
  • Chinese travelers, who represented the fourth largest visitor numbers at 431,369, poured 3.1 billion AU dollars ($3.12 billion USD) into the economy. The UK contributed 2.9 billion AU dollars (2.92 billion USD), and New Zealand 2 billion AU dollars (2.01 billion USD).



  • With the Approved Destination Status (ADS) between Canada and China going into effect in 2010, the number of tourists is expected to increase 50% to 240,000 by 2015. 


Shifting Chinese tourist trends


Whereas "10 countries in 7 days" whirlwind tours were the norm in the past, theme based tours are increasingly common and popular. The first wave of travelers visiting abroad are now returning for more personal experience. "Deep dive" and theme based travels have experienced very strong growth and are now parallel in importance as package tours to Europe and elsewhere.


The role of Internet and social media in Chinese travel planning


China has surpassed the U.S. as the country with the most Internet users (450 million) since 2010. More importantly, over 80% of the users are involved in social media. Consider the following factoids:

  • nearly 7 in 10 Chinese leisure travellers access destination websites and 6 in 10 use online travel discussion forums to source information, according to a recent survey by the Nielsen Company in conjunction with the Pacific Asia Travel Association.
  • traditional travel agents ranks only second behind online sources as the most popular information sources for travellers (63%).


In short, Internet and social media are the single most effective marketing and communications tool in reaching out to these potential travellers and helping them make their decisions - before they head to the travel agents.


Challenges in marketing to Chinese tourist


Whereas Chinese tourists present a major market opportunity, reaching out to these tourists and getting a share of the revenues remain a challenge:

  • their personal needs and what they are looking for when they travel are significantly different from Westerners.
  • Since they don’t live in an English-eccentric world, how do you reach out to them in the language they are comfortable in?
  • Traditional social media channels such as Facebook and YouTube are either not accessible or blocked in China. In other words, the traditional marketing channels are completely ineffective in China.
  • How do you promote your business on the Internet so they can find you?
  • Are you even on their map?




How Chichaku can help you become part of their decision tree before they embark on their journeys.


Find out the list of listing and marketing options with Chichaku and see which ones are right for you.