The UNWTO recently announced that the Chinese have overtaken the Germans to rank as the highest-spending tourists in the world. With $102 billion spent on trips overseas during 2012, Chinese travellers have leapt ahead of well-known big-spenders from Germany, the United States and Russia.
This milestone came as no shock, with such a massive and growing population of travellers in China. But what does surprise many experts is the speed at which Chinese travel continues to grow. Chinese travellers made 83 million overseas trips in 2012, compared to 10 million in 2000. This is not only fuelling growth within China, but also the rest of the region.
It is predicted that by 2030, China could have 200 million outbound travellers and that looks to be on target, based on current pace of growth. But in order to reach these numbers, continued cooperation, ongoing liberalisation and investment in new technology will be needed to ensure that China stays on its fast track.
Unlike the rest of the world, global GDS’s have not been able to operate in China, which means that technology has not always been able to evolve in line with global standards and the industry uses a system that is relatively restricted in some areas.
This has meant that local travel agents don’t have the option of working with a global GDS like Amadeus to search flights and make reservations. They have to rely on the local provider, TravelSky, with often less evolved technology, which can mean travel agents resort to time-consuming manual processes to check fares and confirm flights for their customers.
Last year, with the publishing of new regulations from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), a gradual change is due to take place. Companies like Amadeus will be able to start working with Chinese travel agents to help them deliver better service and more travel options for Chinese travellers, and in turn help international airlines access the ever-growing Chinese travel market. This reaches beyond airlines as well, with international hotels, cruises and other travel providers also set to benefit from new Chinese bookings.
However, while the regulations have been approved, actual implementation is not yet completed.
But change is hopefully underway and it will only mean good things for the Chinese travel industry.
Certainly for now, the pace of growth in China’s travel industry is not showing any signs of slowing, and more milestones are being reached every year. However, industry progress in areas of liberalisation and technology needs to continue, in order to keep up with new demands from Chinese travellers as they spread their wings.
We’re very excited to be playing our part in bringing the world’s best technology to China, working with travel agencies and airlines to help them share in the success of Chinese travel and keep it moving ahead on its fast track.
For more insights – be sure to download our comprehensive travel industry report – Shaping the future of travel in Asia Pacific – which is available in a China specific context.