The number of Chinese tourists travelling to the GCC is expected to increase 81 per cent, from 1.6 million in 2018 to 2.9 million in 2022, according to data published ahead of Arabian Travel Market.
The latest research from Colliers International, in partnership with ATM, reveals that the GCC countries currently attract just one per cent of China’s total outbound market.
However positive trends are expected over the coming years, as 400 million Chinese tourists are expected to go abroad in 2030 – up from 154 million in 2018.
Looking at the economic drivers, China’s links with the GCC have strengthened in recent years due to the introduction of additional and direct airline routes; the strong growth of the Chinese economy and Chinese tourists’ increasing disposable income.
Keen to capitalise on this potential, figures from ATM 2018 show 25 per cent of delegates, exhibitors and attendees were interested in doing business with China.
Danielle Curtis, exhibition director, Middle East, Arabian Travel Market, said: “China is set to account for a quarter of international tourism by 2030 – and owing to its many business and investment opportunities, as well as a new generation of leisure attractions and retail destinations, the GCC is set to capitalise on this growth with millions of Chinese tourists about to make their first international trip.
“Last year, the number of Chinese exhibitors participating at ATM almost doubled and this trend looks set to continue as we look ahead to ATM 2019.
“Over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC and today we have seen more hotel and travel professionals than ever before eager to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented by the Chinese market.”
The Colliers data shows Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 33 per cent between 2018 and 2022.
Both the kingdom and China’s cultural and educational exchanges have been cited as one of the key elements driving this influx.
Over the last ten years, airports in the Middle East and China have shown the fastest increase in hub connectivity worldwide with Emirates, Etihad, Saudia, Gulf Air, China Eastern and Air China all providing direct flights between the GCC and various destinations in China.
Emirates, the leading passenger service provider from the GCC to China, now offers 38 weekly flights between both destinations.
During 2018, China Eastern announced plans to launch three-times weekly direct flights between Shanghai and Dubai – further complementing the airline’s three existing flights between Shanghai and Dubai, which have a stopover in Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province.
Arabian Travel Market 2019 takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 28th-May 1st next year.