What Adventure Travel Companies need to know about Chinese Travelers
In 2016, Chinese nationals crossed their international borders 136.8 million times. About half of these
trips were to ‘Greater China,’ which includes Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau1 – but more than ever Chinese
travelers were venturing further abroad. In fact, for nearly every country in the world, China leads in
terms of tourism arrivals or tourism spend. According to UNWTO, in 2014, Chinese travelers spent USD
$165 billion on outbound travel – up 27% from the previous year. Yet, according to Hotels.com, only 5% of
Chinese nationals have a passport2 .
The main reason for this growth is the expansion of the middle class which McKinsey & Company
expects will consist of 700 million Chinese by 2022. According to McKinsey ‘the increase is powered by
labor-market and policy initiatives that push wages up, financial reforms that stimulate employment and
income growth and the rising role of private enterprise3 .” Having said that, McKinsey also estimates that
the upper class will be the main source of consumer spending over the next decade.
This research shows Chinese Adventure tourists to be young and wealthy. They are interested in visiting
exotic destinations that deliver exceptional photographic memories for them to share on social media.
Some sources suggest concerns around pollution are another factor driving the demand for nature
based holidays. However, besides some trekking experience, their technical skills are low and safety is a
high priority. Chinese travelers are prone to selecting trending destinations, but also readily abandon
destinations if safety or politics is a concern.
The main characteristic of Chinese consumers is how fast their preferences are changing. This has been
extensively recorded in the luxury market. Chloe Reuter, a PR consultant based in Shanghai, tracks the
objectives of Chinese luxury consumers from “bling,” through to “trend-setting,” to “experiential,” to the
stage we are at now, “discernment” (connoisseurship and knowledge-seeking) has been striking4 .”
There is no doubt that China will be an important outbound market for adventure operators.
The challenge is for inbound operators to understand the preferences of these tourists, track the changing
trends and attract the niche of the markets most interested in their products.
(source: ATTA reports)