First half of 2017 sees Chinese outbound tourism grow by more than 7.4%

Published on : Saturday, August 19, 2017

South Korea Chinese touristsIn the first half of 2017, Chinese outbound tourism grew by +7.4% to almost 69 million, as per the latest China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) statistics.

However, COTRI said that if the slow growth of just +1% year-on-year to Greater China (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan) is stripped out, the rest of the world saw a sharp +14% rise in Chinese visitors compared to the same period in 2016.

Although the COTRI and CNTA numbers differ, their respective findings both point to modest rises in outbound tourism during the first half of this year. However, once Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, all of which suffered from slow growth are stripped out, the picture changes noticeably.

COTRI Founder Professor Wolfgang Georg Arlt said, “If international arrivals are counted according to nationality, everybody is included, regardless of whether that person came from their home country for a trip or not,” he wrote. “If you count according to residence, foreigners living in a third country, for instance a British expat working in China, will be included in arrival statistics. In many cases, the definition of ‘residence’ will also differ.


Most national tourism statistics are based on hotel registrations, leaving out private arrangements, small lodging providers and, in recent years, Airbnb and similar services.


Surveys at ports of entry have a tendency to under-report visitors with perceived language difficulties or a reluctance to stop for an interview. Multi-national visas, such as the Schengen visa in Europe, and multiple-entry visas make it difficult to use visa applications as an indicator. In China, there is also the additional problem of changes in the publication of travel statistics. In November 2014, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) stopped publishing – at least internally – monthly data for border crossings, changing instead to quarterly results. This changed again in 2016, since when data on outbound travel has only been provided on a half-yearly basis.”

He added that the CNTA’s means of calculating which trips are included has changed in the recent years, though the new definition has not been published. As a result, he said, in 2016 even the UNWTO stopped using CNTA numbers and now is relying on other Chinese sources. COTRI began to generate its own figures in 2015, based on reports from host sources.


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