China’s outbound tourist numbers are expected to reach 140 million in 2024, a 50% increase over 2023 and there has been a huge increase in travellers to the Middle East, it was revealed at a recent seminar hosted by i21 Group.

The seminar was held as a precursor to the China Visitors Summitt (CVS) that will be held in both Dubai and Doha in September.

More than 100 hotel sales directors, marketing directors, and general managers took part in the event which covered the habits, insights and trends of the Chinese International traveler.

As of Q1 of 2024, the domestic traveller numbers in China had reached 180 million, according to the China Tourism Academy.

The Chinese traveller numbers to Middle East has already shown a 100% increase compared to pre-Covid levels, the seminar heard.


A key feature of the trend is that about 56% of global Chinese travellers are now women.

Other trends being noted are: the average age of travellers are beginning to drop; the average income is increasing; and the length of stay is increasing. They are not just shopping or doing the desert experiences, but are enjoying more deep experiences, a statement from the organisers said.

Speaking on China's economic status, Alexander Glos, CEO of i21 Group, stated: "China is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world today, with a roughly $120 trillion economy."

Addressing concerns about China's slowing growth, Glos acknowledged the 4.6% growth rate reported last year was the lowest in 15 years, but emphasised that it still represents $1 trillion in real money created.

Glos highlighted the importance of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), noting: "China is the largest country in the world in terms of PPP. For travel, that translates into consumer disposable income. This means that the average Chinese person today has almost double the disposable income of someone in Europe or North America."

In 2023, 78 million Chinese travellers ventured abroad, marking a significant increase despite the year being effectively a six-month period due to the delayed resumption of travel following China's reopening in January.

Glos pointed out a shift in travel patterns among the Chinese, with 46% being free independent travellers (FITs), 23% business and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) travellers, and 31% traveling in smaller, more bespoke groups – a departure from the traditionally large Chinese group tours.

The financial and economic impact of Chinese travellers is unquestionable. Alipay, an online payment system, reported a 7% increase in transactions over 2019 (pre-pandemic), indicating that Chinese travellers are exploring the world and spending more. According to statistics from the Qunar platform, Chinese travellers visited 125 countries and 1,700 destinations in 2023, he said.

The China Visitor Summit 2024 takes place on September 5 and 6 at the So/Uptown Dubai and on September 9 and 10 at the Westin Hotel in Doha. 

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