Middle East set to be the first region to recover Chinese tourism numbers

Middle East set to be the first region to recover Chinese tourism numbers

China’s outbound tourism numbers set to double year-on-year in 2024 

According to research by Oxford Economics, outbound travel from China is estimated to almost double this year, compared with 2023, and will only be 22% below its peak pre-pandemic numbers of 155 million tourists in 2019. 

Full recovery is expected to happen in 2025, with the Middle East being the first region globally to recover its Chinese inbound market.

Underscoring that prediction, Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 6 to 9 May, is set to welcome twice the number of Chinese exhibitors and travel professionals, compared with its 2019 show.

Chinese companies booked to exhibit at ATM 2024 include Heytrip International, Jiangsu Intelligence Equipment Co, Flightroutes24 Travel Company Ltd, Feeyo Technology and anticipated destination representation from Macao Government Tourism Office, China Cultural Centre in the UAE and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

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China lifted its Covid-related travel restrictions on 8 January 2023, allowing Chinese tourists to travel abroad without having to quarantine upon their return. 

Bookings for overseas travel during Chinese New Year in 2023 soared by 540% compared with the same period in 2022, according to data from the Chinese travel platform

Arabian Travel Market Exhibition Director ME Danielle Curtis said: “Analysts are confident that, this year, we could see Chinese visitor numbers double year-on-year, with major destinations in the Middle East recovering quicker than any other internationally, especially for luxury travel. That sentiment has also been borne out by the latest spending data for the 2024 Chinese New Year. According to Chinese payment platform Alipay, the number of Chinese overseas transactions were 7% higher than those recorded in 2019.”

Curtis added that the most popular Middle East destinations for Chinese travellers are Dubai in the UAE, AlUla in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. 

Dubai alone welcomed more than one million Chinese visitors in 2019.

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