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Wed 18 Dec 2019 02:16 PM

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Revealed: the growing importance of Chinese tourists to the Gulf

Research says the number of Chinese tourists travelling to the GCC is expected to increase 54% from 1.4 million in 2018 to 2.2 million in 2023

Revealed: the growing importance of Chinese tourists to the Gulf

The data, published ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020, shows the UAE will continue to be the preferred GCC destination for Chinese tourists, welcoming a projected 1.9 million visitors by 2023.

The number of Chinese tourists travelling to the GCC is expected to increase 54 percent from 1.4 million in 2018 to 2.2 million in 2023, according to new research.

Colliers International predicts China will maintain its position as a top source market across the GCC, particularly in the UAE, where Chinese visitors are currently the second and fourth highest ranked source markets for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, respectively.

The data, published ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2020, shows the UAE will continue to be the preferred GCC destination for Chinese tourists, welcoming a projected 1.9 million visitors by 2023.

Saudi Arabia will follow with 1 million visitors, while Oman will welcome 76,900, Bahrain 26,300 and Kuwait 2,800.

Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “China’s links with the GCC have strengthened in recent years due to the introduction of additional and direct airline routes; relaxed visa regulations; the strong growth of the Chinese economy and Chinese tourists’ increasing disposable income.

“The recent influx in Chinese visitors to the GCC shows no sign of abating as we look ahead to 2023 and beyond – owing largely to the many business and investment opportunities that the region presents, as well as a new generation of leisure attractions and retail destinations.

“Keen to capitalise on this growing potential, figures from ATM 2019 show more than 100% increase in Chinese visitor attendance as well as 15% increase YoY between 2018 and 2019, in the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with China”

Chinese tourists are the world’s highest spenders while travelling abroad, with total outbound travel and tourism expenditure reaching $277 billion in 2018, according to the Colliers data.

“Focusing on the GCC, Chinese visitors to the region are expected to generate an estimated $3.48 billion in travel and tourism revenue by 2023, an increase of 71 percent when compared with figures from 2018,” said Curtis.

“In 2018 Bahrain witnessed the highest average spend per visit at $2,567. Saudi Arabia followed with an average Chinese tourist spend per trip reaching $1,582, very closely followed by the UAE at $1,459 and Kuwait and Oman reaching $1,167 and $730 respectively.”

Despite Bahrain experiencing the highest average spend last year, it is the UAE that ranked the 9th most popular destination in the world for the 1.67 million Chinese outbound high net-worth individual (HNWI) travellers, according to the Chinese Outbound Travel Research Institute (COTRI) in collaboration with C-Trip.

These travellers are estimated to spend an average of $3,410 on their travel package alone, not including additional spend on F&B, retail and leisure activities.

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