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Chinese visitors to Middle East increasing fast

By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2024-05-10 19:24
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A panel event titled "Capitalising on China's Predicted Tourism Surge" is held at the Arabian Travel Market which runs from May 6 to 9 at the Dubai world Trade Center. [Photo provided to]

Outbound Chinese tourists visiting the Middle East increased by 54 percent between the first quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, according to a forum in Dubai.

At the Arabian Travel Market held from May 6 to 9 at the Dubai world Trade Center, a forum heard that the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have emerged as top travel destinations in the Arab region for Chinese visitors.

At a panel event titled "Capitalising on China's Predicted Tourism Surge", Sukhpreet Singh Ghataura, director of ecosystem development at MEAI (Middle East, Africa & India) Huawei noted that in 2023, China accounted for 10 percent of global travel, with a collective spending of approximately $265 billion.

The primary driver for China's outbound tourists, he noted, is the cultural experiences they can enjoy in foreign destinations. With popular times for travel being the Labor Day holiday, China's National Day and Spring Festival.

According to Huawei's research, 66 percent of the people visiting the Middle East engage in cultural experiences, and a majority of the outbound Chinese tourists were motivated by factors like luxury offerings and sporting attractions. There was also a significant spike in travel within the senior middle-class segment, with the group preferring quality travel and having access to a higher disposable income.

Sienna Parulis-Cook, director of marketing and communications at Dragon Trail International, a marketing solutions company involved in the travel industry, said consumer research conducted by the firm has pointed to major growth this year in terms of consumer confidence and intention to travel.

In 2023, 30 percent of Chinese travellers said they would not leave China to travel, but the figure was now down to just 10 percent.

Five percent said they have already travelled while 18 percent had booked travel, with 94 percent reporting they had booked travel to more than one destination. This meant that if they were visiting Europe, they would be travelling to multiple destinations within one region.

Lu Pan, marketing vice-president at Shanghai Dongfang Newspaper Co Ltd, said that when it came to promoting travel and tourism to Chinese tourists, apart from the traditional and digital marketing platforms, word of mouth is still a powerful tool.

She said tourism boards should prioritize storytelling by effectively communicating the stories about their businesses, destinations, and cultures and showing a genuine interest in their target audience to build trust.

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