China / Hot Issues

Exchange rates shaping travel plans

By Su Zhou (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-09 07:24

Uncertainties such as fluctuating currency exchange rates and fear of terrorist attacks are influencing outbound tourists' decision-making, says a new report.

The depreciation of the yuan versus the US dollar didn't have a significant impact on tourism destinations such as the United States last year, according to the annual report on China outbound tourism development, released on Thursday by the China Tourism Academy.

However, the yuan's appreciation against the Japanese yen, the Russian rouble and the Canadian dollar have boosted quickly planned overseas trips, it said.

"Travel to destinations with favorable currency exchange rates has become a phenomenon," said Yang Jinsong, a professor of international tourism at the China Tourism Academy.

"At the same time, terrorism attacks have caused significant negative impact on outbound tourism. Thailand, France, Turkey and Egypt have seen a drop in the number of Chinese tourists."

Last year, 117 million Chinese mainland tourists visited overseas countries and regions. The number is expected to hit 133 million this year, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

"Consumers are always sensitive to the currency exchange rate," said Dong Na at the Chinese online travel agency Qunar. "During the summer vacation, many tourists have consulted about whether a trip to Europe would cost more."

"Generally speaking, tourists need to spend more for their overseas trips if the RMB has depreciated against a basket of currencies. But tourists know how to choose destinations."

The United Kingdom has benefited. The cheaper pound and euro brought on by the Brexit referendum in June is an incentive for Chinese travelers going to Britain, according to Qunar. It said its travel business to the United Kingdom increased by 35 percent after July, compared with the same period last year.

Liu Simin, vice-president of the tourism branch of the China Society for Futures Studies, said that in the past, tourists tended to choose tourism destinations based on tourism resources, visa requirements, distance and cost. However, the priority has changed in recent years, Liu said.

The currency exchange rates have influenced tourists "because Chinese outbound tourists are cost-sensitive and love shopping," he said.

The report also said that nearly 60 percent of Chinese tourists said an overseas trip is a big consumption decision.

Liu also said that, in the past, not much attention was paid to security concerns.

"However, security has become the top concern," he said. "In the past, the tourism industry would consider the negative impact brought by natural disaster and political disturbances as a short-term issue. However, terrorism is totally different."

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