Channelnewsasia.com reported on January 09, 2014, citing data from the Chinese online newspaper, the China Daily, and China’s National Tourism Administration, showing that for the whole of 2013, there is an approximately 97.0 million Chinese tourists visited abroad, up by 14.0 million from 2012. It is forecasted that the outbound travel trend is likely to extend their lead this year and beyond, as more Mainland Chinese people have become affluent, and command a higher spending power while abroad.
According to the Jan 09 Channelnewsasia.com news article, in 2004, the number of outbound Mainland Chinese tourists numbered a mere 29.0 million, and this shows the extent of the potential opportunities for many foreign tourist organisations that are eyeing to tap into the potential spending growth coming from Chinese tourists. The extent of such a rise in overseas spending growth was highlighted in the article where it cited that Chinese tourists spent approximately USD 102.0 billion during their foreign trips, surpassing among the global biggest tourism spenders including the Germans and the Americans.
Along with the rise in outbound travel coming from the Mainland Chinese tourists, many countries, including the Asia-Pacific region, and the European Union (EU) have stepped up efforts and revamping some of the visa application procedures that will allow faster processing of foreign travel and immigration clearances for Mainland Chinese tourists. These nations have also roped in their respective tourism authorities in stepping up their promotions abroad to entice Mainland Chinese people to visit their countries. The lodging, restaurant and retail business associations in most of these regions have also been roped in to come up with ideas on how to cater to the needs of the Mainland Chinese tourists, including some of their preferences among the accommodation, and service quality standards. An example was cited in the Jan. 09 article where one of the renowned British high-end department stores, Harrods, has reportedly staffed approximately 70 Mandarin-speaking staff, and more than 100 China UnionPay terminals allowing direct payment form Chinese bank accounts.
Given the rise and potential seen among outbound Mainland Chinese travellers, there has been a growing trend of backlash among the locals and their perception of Mainland Chinese tourists. Some of the local residents have complained about the rude behaviour, and distasteful mannerisms being portrayed among many Mainland Chinese tourists. The Mainland Chinese tourists were seen as unruly, not following the queue accordingly, and some displaying bad mannerisms that might compromise the image of China, and its reputation abroad. Examples of such bad behaviour being practised by some Mainland Chinese tourists abroad include the recent graffiti incident where one of the Mainland Chinese tourists belonging to a tour group visiting the ancient pyramids in Egypt, was alleged to have carved his name on an ancient temple statute, and sparked off a backlash among local residents. Another incident took place in the United States involving a Mainland Chinese tourist was alleged to have spayed painted the statute of late President Abraham Lincoln, while visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. In reaction to these incidents, the China National Tourism Administration has published educational materials that aimed to educate the Mainland Chinese people to practice good mannerisms, and be mindful of their behaviours while traveling abroad. However, despite such moves made by the Chinese government, there will always be some ‘bad hats’ that sought to tarnish China’s reputation abroad.
Leaving aside the occasional incidents of Mainland Chinese alleged bad behaviours abroad, the potential of these Mainland Chinese tourists is huge, in terms of the amount of potential spending power coming from the various dining, entertainment, and shopping activities they indulge in while abroad. It is no doubt in most people’s minds that the potential growth coming from the Mainland Chinese tourists visiting abroad is huge and diversified. It also creates potential opportunities for many local businesses to cater to the unique needs of these Mainland Chinese tourists as they have become more sophisticated in their demand for service quality excellence.