chinese tourists

Travel spend by Chinese tourists reached US$ 127.5 billion

UnionPay International (“UPI”), one of the world’s largest bank card companies, together with China’s largest online travel agency Ctrip issued the 2019 ‘Chinese Outbound Travel Consumption Report’ on November 28th about Chinese tourists.

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Drawing on payment data from UPI and statistics of travel products booking from Ctrip, the report highlights China’s burgeoning appetite for tourism and new trends in outbound consumption. The report shows that by 2019, Chinese travelers went to over 150 countries and regions. The highly segmented tourist group calls for an equally varied payment service of greater convenience and security.

Who are these global jet setters? Key Takeaways:

  • In 2019, there were 10% more female outbound travelers than male;
  • The average expenditure per person of male travelers is higher;
  • There has been a steady growth in outbound tourists from second- and third-tier cities;
  • By age, the post-80s and 60+ age bracket made up the highest spending, while people born in the 2000s are following the trend of solo travel.

The different customer profiles unveiled by the report all point to a growingly diverse set of travelers, all with different expectation and demands for services; for example, the young generation sees mobile payment services as essential while seniors seek information.

Growth in QR Payments and Outbound Travel to New Destinations

The report also finds that global travel spend by Chinese tourists in the first half of 2019 reached US$ 127.5 billion. Destinations in Europethe United States and Australia remained top favorites, however, for the first time, there was substantial growth in visitors to countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, such as BelarusMyanmarGeorgia and Nepal.

The report also points out that Chinese tourists care significantly about hospitality, dining and booking before arrival:

  • 80% of travelers stay at high-end (five-star) hotels
  • Spending on F&B in regions such as the South Pacific and the Middle East saw an increase of around 60%.
  • The report also reveals substantial growth in online bookings for entertainment and attractions.

This highly segmented group of travelers are increasingly demanding more versatile services. To better appeal to emerging trends and varied needs of cross-border travelers, UnionPay International has stepped up efforts to improve product development and services and has expanded its acceptance footprint to 177 countries and regions.

UnionPay’s contactless payment solution, QuickPass, is now accepted at 3.4 million merchants outside mainland China, with five new destinations – including Mexico and the Czech Republic – added in 2019. UnionPay QR Code payment is available at 450,000 acceptance points, up 50% compared to the first half of 2019; and in 32 markets, UnionPay cardholders can now make tap-and-go or scan-and-go payments in 52 countries and regions.

In terms of information, the “Cross-border Travel Service” section on the UnionPay app provides information on users’ guidance of UnionPay cards, special offers, currency exchange rate, tax refunds and more.

Special Offers for New Year

For Chinese outbound travelers, UnionPay remains the prime option for payment and is accepted by 28.5 million merchants around the world, including 500 thousand new members from hit destinations in Italy, UK and India and over 70 international airlines.

As the New Year season is approaching, UPI has rolled out special offers at 30,000 merchants in 34 countries and regions, including a 30% discount for outbound cardholders, and will begin offering extra cashback rewards with partner, Ctrip, along with several other benefits:

  • Chinese tourists can enjoy exclusive offers at airport duty-free stores and savings on airport transportation when making payments by UnionPay QuickPass. Payment by QR code in some regions will also reward cardholders with 50RMB cashback.
  • UnionPay has launched its cross-border cash back rewards program with eight commercial banks in China. Cardholders shopping at overseas or selected online merchants can enjoy 1% cashback for each purchase. The rewards are available in conjunction with other promotion benefits.
  • UnionPay cardholders can enjoy 5% extra cashback while shopping at partner merchants of Ctrip.
  • The special offers are available in 80 major business districts across the globe.

The number of UnionPay cards issued outside mainland China has reached 130 million. UPI has also launched special offers for overseas cardholders in over 2,000 merchants in 23 regions outside mainland China. In selected merchants of major Chinese cities, overseas cardholders can also enjoy discounts of up to 40%.


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