Back in 2018, the trade war between China and the USA resulted in a sharp decrease of Chinese outbound trips to the US. This equated to almost half a million less Chinese visits to the US from 2017 to 2018, a -14% decrease in YoY growth according to COTRI analytics.

During the same year in Europe, Chinese tourism varied depending on the region. Indeed, the football World Cup in Russia scooped away a considerable number of arrivals to Northern Europe (Denmark, Finland and Iceland) as the sporting event brought +28% more Chinese travellers to Russia in 2018 according to COTRI.

On the other hand, France and Italy as well as South Europe and the Balkan Peninsular recorded a strong increase of Chinese arrivals. Despite Brexit uncertainties, the UK welcomed more than 390,000 Chinese travellers, a +16% increase compared to the year before according to VisitBritain statistics.

A not so easy road to recovery

In 2019, as the New York Times reports a continuous decrease of Chinese arrivals to the US affecting all stakeholders from the tourism industry, several European destinations on the other hand have seen the number of flights further increase or recover since 2018. From January to May 2019, Spain and the UK have already posted double-digit growth by +21% and +36% respectively, compared to the same period the year before according to ForwardKeys. Elsewhere, France and Italy maintained their progress as their flight numbers from China increased +9% and +2% respectively. Even Germany posted a +3% growth in Chinese air arrivals.

A smooth perspective

Looking ahead, all destinations are expected to receive more traffic from China driven by new airline connections. According to AIN Publications, the online media aviation specialist, all Chinese airlines commencing operations after June 2019 will have to be based at Tier 2 city airports as gateways to the country’s top-tier cities including Shanghai Pudong and Hongquio, Guangzhou Baiyun, Shenzhen Bao’an and Beijing Capital.

With Chinese Millennial travellers’ spending power increasing, outbound travels to popular APAC and European countries will likely benefit, as well as newer, more niche destinations for this nationality such as Turkey or Nepal, closer to home.