The number of Chinese tourists travelling to the GCC is expected to increase 54% from 1.4 million in 2018 to 2.2 million in 2023, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.8%, according to data published ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020.
As destinations from across the globe prepare to showcase their latest offering at ATM 2020, which is being held at Dubai World Trade Centre from Sunday 19 – Wednesday 22 April 2020, Colliers International predicts China will maintain its position as a top source market across the GCC, particularly in the UAE, where Chinese visitors are currently the second and fourth highest ranked source markets for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, respectively.
Adding to this, the data predicts the UAE will continue to be the preferred GCC destination for Chinese tourists, welcoming a projected 1.9 million visitors by 2023. Saudi Arabia will follow with 1 million visitors, while Oman will welcome 76,900, Bahrain 26,300 and Kuwait 2,800.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “China’s links with the GCC have strengthened in recent years due to the introduction of additional and direct airline routes; relaxed visa regulations; the strong growth of the Chinese economy and Chinese tourists’ increasing disposable income.
“The recent influx in Chinese visitors to the GCC shows no sign of abating as we look ahead to 2023 and beyond – owing largely to the many business and investment opportunities that the region presents, as well as a new generation of leisure attractions and retail destinations.
“Keen to capitalise on this growing potential, figures from ATM 2019 show more than 100% increase in Chinese visitor attendance as well as 15% increase YoY between 2018 and 2019, in the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with China.”
Chinese tourists are the world’s highest spenders while travelling abroad, with total outbound travel and tourism expenditure reaching US$277 billion in 2018, according to the Colliers data.
“Focusing on the GCC, Chinese visitors to the region are expected to generate an estimated US$3.48 billion in travel and tourism revenue by 2023, an increase of 71% when compared with figures from 2018,” said Curtis.
“In 2018 Bahrain witnessed the highest average spend per visit at US$2,567. Saudi Arabia followed with an average Chinese tourist spend per trip reaching US$1,582, very closely followed by the UAE at US$1,459 and Kuwait and Oman reaching $US1,167 and US$730 respectively.”
Despite Bahrain experiencing the highest average spend last year, it is the UAE that ranked the 9th most popular destination in the world for the 1.67 million Chinese outbound High Net-Worth Individual (HNWI) travellers, according to the Chinese Outbound Travel Research Institute (COTRI) in collaboration with C-Trip.
These HNW travellers are estimated to spend an average of US$3,410 on their travel package alone, not including additional spend on F&B, retail and leisure activities.
Curtis added: “Over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC, and today, more hospitality and tourism professionals than ever before are eager to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented by the Chinese market.
“After a successful debut at ATM last year, the Arab China Tourism forum will return for 2020 as part of the show’s new forum & networking sessions. The forum will explore the untapped opportunities that China’s expanding tourism market presents, while outlining what destinations can do to attract a larger share of this key market and also providing an informal networking event for buyers from China and exhibitors.”
ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event with representation from 150 countries. With over 100 exhibitors making their debut, ATM 2019 showcased the largest ever exhibition from Asia. Looking ahead, ATM will adopt Events for Tourism Growth as the official show theme for the 2020 edition of the show.