Chinese outbound tourism expenditure grew 12 per cent to US$261 billion last year, continuing a trend of double-digit growth every year since 2004 and placing China first in UNWTO’s ranking of international tourism spend.
The number of outbound Chinese travellers also rose six per cent to 135 million in 2016, consolidating China’s position as the world’s top source market since 2012. Asia-Pacific benefitted especially from the growth in Chinese travel, most notably Japan, South Korea and Thailand, and also longhaul destinations such as the US and several in Europe.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong entered the top 10 spending markets following five per cent growth in expenditure (US$24 billion, while South Korea (US$27 billion) and Australia (US$27 billion) both spent eight per cent more in 2016.
Among the largest 50 source markets, there were nine apart from China that recorded double-digit growth in spending in 2016: Vietnam (+28 per cent), Argentina (+26 per cent), Egypt (+19 per cent), Spain (+17 per cent), India (+16 per cent), Israel and Ukraine (both +12 per cent), Qatar and Thailand (both +11 per cent).
Tourism spending from the US - the second largest market - increased eight per cent in 2016 to US$122 billion, up US$9 billion on 2015. For the third year in a row, strong outbound demand was fuelled by a robust US dollar and economy. The number of US residents travelling to international destinations increased eight per cent through November 2016 (74 million in 2015).
Germany (+five per cent to US$81 billion), the UK (marginal change to US$64 billion), France (+seven per cent to US$41 billion) and Italy (+one per cent to US$25 billion), the four European spenders in the global top 10, likewise reported growth in outbound demand last year.
In particular, demand from the UK remained sound despite the significant depreciation of the British pound in 2016. UK residents' visits abroad were up by five million (+seven per cent) in 2016 to 70 million.
By contrast, outbound tourism from some commodity exporters continued to be depressed as a consequence of their weaker economies and currencies. Expenditure from Russia dropped further in 2016 to US$24 billion, while Brazil also saw declines in outbound spend.