China will overtake France as the world’s number one tourist destination by 2030, a new report from global research company Euromonitor International predicts. As well as receiving more visitors than any other country in the world, it will also have the largest number of outbound travellers, overtaking the US and Germany, with 260 million outbound tourist trips by 2030.
Speaking at World Travel Market in London this week, Wouter Geerts, consultant at Euromonitor and author of the report, said tourism was now one of the key pillars of the Chinese economy. According to his research, China will be largest inbound market by 2030, with many tourists coming from within Asia, including Hong Kong, Taiwan and the surrounding region.
The increase in visitors to China is mainly due to economic growth and higher incomes in nearby Asian countries. Access to the country is also improving for Asian visitors, who are able to obtain visas more easily than before. Currently, 80% of tourists visiting Asia come from within the continent, Geerts said.
However, visa processes remain less simple and more costly for some countries, particularly for travellers from the US and UK, with a single-entry Chinese visa for a UK citizen currently costing £151.
Domestic travel remains important in China, with 4.7bn trips taken in 2018, a figure forecast to rise by 42.5% to 6.7bn by 2023. The report also found that domestic trips in Asia overall are predicted to grow by 10% in 2018.
With tourism becoming increasingly vital to the Chinese economy, an improved and more cohesive approach has been implemented by regional tourist boards, and tourism is being used to boost rural economies. In 2017, China also launched its “all-for-one” tourism programme, focusing on conservation, diversity of cultures and environmental sustainability.
The Euromonitor report also predicted a fall in outbound tourism from the UK as a result of Brexit. “A ‘no-deal Brexit’ would result in five million fewer outbound departures in 2022 than would have been the case under the baseline scenario,” said Euromonitor’s head of travel, Caroline Bremner. She added that young people in the UK also have less money than in the past, “whereas it is the opposite in Asia.”
However, a no-deal Brexit would lead to a rise inbound tourism as the pound falls in value.