Chinese tourists expected to spend $45b

Chinese tourists will dominate travel in Asia Pacific this year, according to the MasterCard Asia Pacific Destinations Index, which also looks at cross-border spending.

About 50.4 million tourists from China are projected to travel to destinations across Asia Pacific this year, making up 15.7 per cent of total international overnight arrivals in the region. Chinese travellers are expected to spend US$45.3 billion in Asia Pacific destinations, 18.2 per cent of total tourist expenditure.

Contributing most to international overnight arrivals following China are tourists from South Korea (32.5 million, 10.1 per cent), Taiwan (22.5 million; 7 per cent), the US (20.6 million, 6.4 per cent) and Japan (18 million, 5.6 per cent).

China propelled from sixth-biggest contributor of tourists to Asia Pacific in 2009 (5.8 per cent share) to reach the top spot in 2012 with a 9.8 per cent share. It has retained top position ever since with a 15.7 per cent share driven by 25.9 per cent compounded average annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2009 to this year.

In contrast, Japanese tourists to Asia Pacific destinations have dropped from top spot in 2009 (9.7 per cent share) to fifth this year.

At fourth position, the US has consistently been the highest-ranked non-Asia Pacific origin country since 2009. The UK is the only other non-Asia Pacific origin country within the top 10, at ninth place.

Driving growth

“The impact of the economic transformation of China and specifically the rise in disposable incomes is the biggest driver of tourism growth globally,” says MasterCard Asia Pacific executive VP for global products and solutions Matthew Driver.

“While we are expecting similar growth from India and Indonesia in the longer term, as well as other segments such as Halal tourism, Chinese tourists are more concentrated in Asia and impact markets at a larger scale.

“This growth is very positive for the Asia Pacific tourism industry and there is a huge opportunity for industry players to tap into it if they identify the relevant segments of the market for their business, understand their unique needs and design products and services to best cater to their needs.”

Rounding out the top 10 courses of tourists after Japan are Singapore (14.3 million, 4.5 per cent share), Malaysia (13.5 million, 4.2 per cent), Australia (13.3 million, 4.2 per cent), the UK (12.3 million, 3.8 per cent) and Thailand (10.2 million, 3.2 per cent).

Of the top 10 Asia Pacific destinations, four have China as their biggest source of tourists, led by Seoul where Chinese tourists are projected to make up 50.5 per cent of international overnight arrivals, followed by Bangkok at 38.2 per cent, Pattaya at 28.8 per cent and Phuket at 25.6 per cent.

The rankings
The top 10 most popular Asia Pacific destinations for Chinese tourists this year ranked by international overnight visitor numbers:

Bangkok (8.2 million, 16.3 per cent share of arrivals)

Seoul (5.2 million, 10.2 per cent)

Tokyo (2.7 million, 5.3 per cent)

Phuket (2.5 million, 5 per cent)

Pattaya (2.1 million, 4.2 per cent)

Osaka (1.9 million, 3.7 per cent)

Singapore (1.8 million, 3.6 per cent)

Taipei (1.6 million, 3.3 per cent)

Jeju (1.5 million, 3.1 per cent)

Bali (1.4 million, 2.7 per cent)

The top 10 Asia Pacific destinations ranked by international overnight visitor numbers: Bangkok (21.5 million)

Singapore (12.1 million)

Kuala Lumpur (12 million)

Tokyo (11.7 million)

Seoul (10.2 million)

Phuket (9.9 million)

Hong Kong (8.4  million)

Bali (7.8 million)

Taipei (7.3 million)

Pattaya (7.3 million)

The top 10 sources of tourists to Asia Pacific destinations this year ranked by total expenditure: China (US$45.3 billion, 18.2 per cent share)

South Korea ($21.0 billion, 8.4 per cent)

US ($16.2 billion, 6.5 per cent)

Japan ($15.8 billion, 6.4 per cent)

Taiwan ($13.9 billion, 5.6 per cent)

Singapore ($12.3 billion, 4.9 per cent)

Australia ($11.3 billion, 4.5 per cent)

UK ($10.3 billion, 4.1 per cent)

Indonesia ($8.8 billion, 3.5 per cent)

Malaysia ($8.7 billion, 3.5 per cent)


The MasterCard Asia Pacific Destinations Index ranks 167 destinations, including island resorts as well as towns and cities, in terms of international overnight arrivals, cross-border spending and the total number of nights spent at each destination. The 167 destinations are drawn from 22 countries, and public data is used in deriving the figures.


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