Chinese Tourists set a Record in 2016

If you’ve traveled to any place in the world that could be considered a tourist destination, then you’ve heard it. The sound of the air brakes letting out some pressure as the bus comes to a stop. Then… you hear it. The hoards of Chinese tourists, cameras in hand, ready to come and “consume” tourism. It’s no surprise that Chinese tourists set a record in 2016 for the most money spent on tourism, worldwide.

Chinese tourists spent over $261 BILLION on tourism outside of their own country in 2016, and that set a record for worldwide tourism.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization showed that last year, over 135 million Chinese tourists left China last year, which was a 15% increase year over year.

Dubai Mall Chinese New Year Show

The top three destinations were, not surprisingly, Japan, Korea, and Thailand, but the US and Europe were right behind.

In terms of people travelling abroad and money spent, the US was #2 with $122 billion. That’s less than half of what China spent on tourism in the year alone.

Top 10 Markets For Outbound Tourist Spending in 2016

Rank Country Spending ($U.S.) % Growth Over 2015
1 China $221 billion 12%
2 U.S. $122 billion 8%
3 Germany $81 billion 5%
4 UK $64 billion 10%
5 France $41 billion 7%
6 Canada $29 billion 0%
7 Korea $27 billion 8%
8 Australia $27 billion 8%
9 Italy $25 billion 1%
10 Hong Kong $24 billion 5%

We went to Barcelona last year and noted that it was completely overrun by Chinese tourists and tourism companies. The same thing happened in Greece and even, to a smaller extent, to our trip in Morocco last year.

Can someone help translate this for us?

Consuming Tourism vs Enjoying a Location

What we’ve seen over the past few years, and confirmed by talking to a lot of tour directors, is that the majority of these tour groups coming from abroad seem to come to “consume” the locations and “consume” tourism. Consumption in the sense of: The bus rolls up, people get out, they take a few photos, a couple of selfies, and then get back on the bus to head to the next destination. While we’ve been guilty of that a few times, what we’re doing now is slowing down, taking our time, and trying to get to know the locations more than just passing through.

What do you think? Do you “consume” tourism?

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Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. Most of the Chinese tour bus clientele are people from an older generation, where they didn’t have the time or financial means to travel when they were younger. So they’re “making up for lost time” so to speak, trying to see as much of the world as possible now that they do have time and money. Good for you that you’ve lived a privileged life where you can take your time visiting whatever countries you like at a slower pace.

    P.S. 122 is MORE than half of 221. I get that you want to be sensationalist but basic math skill is nice to have.

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  2. Hmpf…. chinese tourist… met some of them when visiting europe few years ago. Don’t know the meaning of queue, won’t wait, yelling anywhere, littering, rude and arrogant, have no manners in restaurant, using overhead bin far from their seat, etc. Not trying to be racist, but that’s the facts. Very disturbing flock of creature. If you never met them, you are a very lucky tourist…..

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  3. Nicely said JSB. The thinly veiled condescension by Jon is so palpable to the point of discrimination. Most of the tour groups were run like that, regardless of Chinese, Indians, or Koreans etc.

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    • You’re right. Most are run like that. But this is an article about Chinese tourists. So there is no condescension on my part just pure factual observation. I’m sorry you feel that way.

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  4. I challenge you to be more condescending!

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    • Sorry you feel that way Haitao. No condescending attitude in my end just the simple truth. The number of Chinese tourists have risen dramatically which is what the article states. Thanks for reading.

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  5. They’re usually loud, obnoxious and highly disrespectful of anyone else at the landmark they’re visiting, or the site itself. This is well know and documented by numerous news articles and even the Chinese gent threatening to ban rude tourists from leaving the country and issuing etiquette pamphlets.

    I say the less they see the better. God forbid they should start all lingering and getting to know the destination. those types of tourists fortunately have no ability to do independent travel so the quick selfie speed tour is all they do.

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    • Hi Rick. I don’t think rudeness is anything other than human nature, and definitely not a trait of any one particular population. I’m sure we consider things they do to be rude as much as things we do look rude in their eyes. I do agree with you that there have been attempts to improve some of their travelers’ etiquette but I would just attribute that to cultural differences and nothing else. If anything, I would say the more they travel, the more exposed we all are to different cultures and customs and it helps us all be more culturally aware and open!

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