Chinese travelers spending less: Survey

Updated: 2015-04-28 15:17

By AMY HE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Chinese outbound travelers are spending less on their trips due to slower income growth, and the popularity the United States as their "dream destination" has declined, according to survey by a unit of the Financial Times.

Average spending per trip is down 6.2 percent compared to the year prior, and lower spending was seen in all categories, according to the report released Monday by the newspaper's China Confidential research unit.

The unit surveyed 1,288 Chinese travelers from first and second-tier cities in February 2015. The travelers had taken overseas trips in the last year, and were residents of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Shenyang, Hangzhou, Changsha, Wuhan and Nanjing. Forty travel agencies were also surveyed.

The report,Winds of Change in Outbound Tourism, said that the lower spending could be due to slower income growth. It said that travel costs had declined due to increased competition and the rise of the renminbi.

"In addition, spending priorities among wealthier, experienced travelers have shifted to experiential attractions and activities, rather than shopping," the report said.

"On a per capita basis, spending is moderating. Spending power might not be as strong as we expect, which leads to the potential conclusion of a maturation of the market,"said Sun Yu, head of research at China Confidential.

Spending on shopping has seen the biggest decline-8.2 percent compared to the same period last year- with fewer people spending on big-ticket items like luxury goods, the report said. "This was primarily due to a significant cutback on shopping purchases by higher-income travelers due to reduced gift purchases, with lower-income travelers continuing to spend more on shopping," according to the report.

Yu said that China's anti-corruption campaign is affecting wealthy travelers, making them reluctant to spend a lot of money on luxury goods. And those who travel overseas often tend to spend less over time. "The more frequently you travel abroad, the less eager you are to buy goods," he said.

The popularity of the US as a destination for Chinese travelers has fallen two spots, from eighth last year to 10th this year, the report said. Only 5.9 percent of survey respondents said that the US is a "dream destination".

Yu said that there is also a rise in travel from Chinese living in inland provinces like Hunan and Hebei, travelers who are less wealthy and are only beginning to travel outside of China for the first time. For them, the US is still attractive, but a less realistic destination given their financial situations.

"People from inland provinces like Hunan, they're not able to afford to a trip to the US. Their first stops might be to South Korea or Japan," he told China Daily.

Many inland province Chinese travelers plan trips around public holidays in China, which don't last longer than seven to 10 days, and air travel to the US might be too time-consuming, he said. "They're going to chose Asia as their longdistance trip because they have limited holidays," he said.

Within Asia, Hong Kong and Macao - preferred destinations for Chinese mainland travellers- are losing favor to South Korea and Japan, both countries that have seen surges in Chinese mainland travellers, according to the report.