Irrespective of what happens to the Chinese economy, Chinese outbound tourism will continue to be a compelling growth story. To a major extent, this will shape the future of the global wellness industry for years to come.
The reasons are twofold: (1) Chinese tourists are becoming increasingly health/wellness conscious – slowly, but surely transitioning from a form of travel geared towards material consumption to travel more focused on well-being aspirations; (2) China’s population and “mass effect” are so huge that even a marginal increase in outbound tourism/wellness tourism equates to substantial absolute numbers at destination.
To give a sense of perspective, last year there were 122 million Chinese outbound tourists; this figure corresponds to slightly less than 9 percent of the overall population. Various estimates forecast that the Chinese outbound traveller figure will skyrocket to 200 million by 2020. Growth last year amounted to 18 percent (compared to an average of 3.9 percent for the world as a whole).
A growing desire to travel will continue to underpin the Chinese outbound tourism growth story. Even if a major adverse economic shock in China were negatively to impact travel affordability for a protracted period of time (with zero or negative growth), the number would remain impressive. At 122 million, China’s outbound tourism is now just below the U.S. (150 million), twice that of the UK and four times bigger than that of France.
The scope for expansion is vast and the direction of travel… towards more wellness… is clear!