Whilst many countries around the world are starting to count the full cost to their economies of lockdowns, border closures and job losses caused by Covid-19, one area that doesn’t get mentioned a lot is the significant hole arising from the loss of Chinese tourism. As we all know, Chinese visitors have made a strong contribution to the economies of all western countries, especially in education, luxury retail, flights and accommodation, not to mention the long term effect of enjoying unique experiences and adventures in a new foreign country, leading to repeat visits, migration, investment (especially in property) and university enrolments.
According to CGTN, “a total of 169.21 million outbound trips were made by Chinese tourists in 2019, up 4.5% from the previous year. The figure includes over 100 million trips made to China’s special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao as well as China’s Taiwan region”. So that leaves almost 70 million trips by Chinese tourists to other countries in 2019.
In addition, Chinese outbound tourists were outspending the rest of the world in terms of total tourism spending worldwide in 2019, with the following countries at the top of the list (as reported by Forbes, in USD):
United States: $135 billion
Germany: $89.1 billion
United Kingdom: $71.4 billion
France: $41.4 billion
Australia: $34.2 billion
Canada: $31.8 billion
Russian Federation: $31.1 billion
Republic of Korea: $30.6 billion
Italy: $27.7 billion
With China now regarded as “Covid-free”, some of the above countries (and others) will be tempted to consider a “travel bubble” with China to open up this lucrative source of new revenue in 2021. Whether they will come or not is another matter.