It may be hard to believe, but
according to the Travel Industry Association, outbound leisure
travel from China only began in 1991 when the government signed
bilateral agreements with Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the
In 1990, only
business and official travel were allowed, and in that year 620,000
departures were logged. In 1993, there were 2.1 million departures.
This number has increased exponentially over the past decade to
19.1 million in 2004, an 810% increase from 1993.
In Beijing alone,
the number of outbound tourists handled by travel agencies rose
1,219% between 1994 and 2000. About half of those travelers (47%)
went to foreign countries.
despite the general growth of all outbound Chinese travel, Chinese
arrivals to the U.S. declined dramatically in 2003, and is only
slowly coming back. Inbound tourism to the U.S. from China is not
expected to reach levels seen in the year 2000 until 2009.
The typical profile
of the traveler from China to the U.S. is roughly split between
business (48%) and leisure (46%) (with the remaining percentage
being students, teachers and miscellaneous others). These travelers
have an average stay of 19.6 nights in the U.S. and an average
travel party of 2.6 people -- 27% come with children in their
The Chinese market
appears to be one that U.S. destinations and others in the travel
industry would want to woo.
are relatively upscale, with an average annual household income of
$65,200, and they are relatively young (an average age of 41 for
men, 40 for women).
would appear strong for online usage, but in 2002, 49% used travel
agents and 30% used their corporate travel departments, while only
22% used the Internet to research their trip.
Art Pfenning is
the research director for Northstar Travel Media, Travel Weeklys
parent company. For information on how research can help your
business, or if you are interested in having NTM Research conduct
your next project, contact Pfenning at [email protected].