Middle East sees 54% increase in Chinese tourists

Middle East sees 54% increase in Chinese tourists

Number up from Q1 2023 to Q1 2024

How to capitalise on China's projected tourism growth was the topic of discussion among a panel of experts at the recent Market Insights Summit held at Arabian Travel Market 2024. 

Effective strategies for attracting and engaging Chinese travellers to the Middle East were outlined in the light of surging demand from the East Asian country. 

Sharing the latest research from Huawei’s Petal Ads platform was Huawei’s director of ecosystem development at MEAI Sukhpreet Singh Ghataura. “Between Q1 2023 and Q1 2024 the number of outbound Chinese tourists visiting the Middle East increased by 54%, with the UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia being the top destinations in the region for Chinese travellers. 

“In 2023, China accounted for 10% of global travel, with a collective spending of approximately US$265bn. The primary driver for China’s outbound tourists is the cultural experiences they can enjoy in foreign destinations,” said Ghataur. “In terms of when they travel, notable seasons are the May Day holiday, China National Day and the Spring Festival.” 

According to Huawei’s research, 66% of people travelling to the Middle East are looking to engage in cultural experiences, and the majority of outbound Chinese tourists are motivated by factors such as luxury offerings and sporting attractions. The research also identified a significant spike in the senior middle-class segment who prefer quality travel and have access to a higher disposable income. 

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Also analysed were findings from consumer research conducted by marketing solutions company Dragon Trail International. The company’s director of marketing and communications Parulis Cook said: “We can see major growth this year in terms of consumer confidence and intention to travel. In 2023, 30% of Chinese travellers said they would not leave China to travel, this figure is now down to 10%. Of the travellers that we surveyed this year, 5% had already travelled and 18% had booked travel – of this, 94% had booked travel to more than one destination. This means that if they are visiting Europe, they will be travelling to multiple destinations within that region.” 

Cook highlights that scenery is one of the main factors motivating tourists to leave China and that travellers are looking to experience nature and culture that is vastly different from their home country. 

In terms of promoting travel and tourism to Chinese tourists, panel member and Shanghai Dongfang Newspaper marketing vice president Lu Pan, said that in addition to traditional and digital marketing platforms, word of mouth is a powerful tool. She describes China’s outbound tourism recovery as an “upward spiral” rather than linear growth”. 

“Tourism boards should prioritise storytelling by effectively communicating the stories about their businesses, destinations and cultures and showing a genuine interest in their target audience to build trust,” she concluded. 


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