A recent report entitled Chinese Travellers Seek New Silk Road Adventure by The Luxury Conversation (a platform that provides insight into Asia’s growing luxury consumer) recently shed light on the heightened popularity of the Middle East region among Chinese travellers.
Managing partner, Reuter Communications (a luxury marketing agency that commissioned the report), Nick Cakebread commented: “The MENA region is becoming a hotspot for China’s growing group of luxury travellers. Many have already gone to Asia, Europe and America and are seeking more unique getaways that blend great hospitality, unique culture and experiences, shopping and local cuisine.”
This unprecedented growth in Chinese visitors is reportedly driven by the introduction of visas on arrival for Chinese nationals visiting the UAE and their longing to uncover destinations off the beaten path.
Adding to this, China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, which cuts through the region, has the potential to put MENA on the map for travel savvy Chinese.
Honing into the UAE, Abu Dhabi, plans to attract 600,000 Chinese tourists a year by 2021, which would represent a 265 per cent jump on figures recorded during the first nine months of 2016.
In Dubai, 540,000 tourists arrived from China last year – up from 450,000 a year earlier. This impressive figure cemented China’s place as a top 10 source market for the emirate.
A total of 13 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as
Hong Kong and Taipei, are connected to Dubai with more than 100 weekly flights.
Also a popular destination among Chinese travellers, Morocco dropped visa requirements for this market in July 2016. Even prior to this game-changing development, Chinese travel company, Ctrip, predicted a 3,500 per cent increase in visa applications to the country. This year, Morocco has a goal of reaching 100,000 visitors from China, and last year the country welcomed 42,000 Chinese tourists – a 300 per cent year-on-year increase on 2015.
As for travel trends among this market, Chinese travellers are renowned for their high-spending. By the year 2019, Chinese tourists will spend $264 billion abroad, which is roughly the size of Finland’s economy, and larger than Greece’s.
According to Middle East-based Majid Al Futtaim Group, up to 25 per cent of luxury goods sold in the Mall of the Emirates are purchased by Chinese tourists.
But although shopping is extremely significant to this market, there has been a noticeable shift from the material to the experiential.
A report by Airbnb highlighted that Chinese tourists are searching for lesser known cities and villages when travelling to countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative.