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Image Source The Edge Malaysia

Chinese travelers swarm tourist destinations across Asia during CNY

February 21, 2024 ChinaMalaysiaSingaporeThailand Industry Updates

Chinese tourists flocked to Asian destinations over the Lunar New Year break, surpassing pre-COVID levels in terms of both visitor numbers and spending.

This rise was caused by Chinese tourists visiting Southeast Asian countries without a visa, suggesting a robust travel comeback after Beijing’s early 2023 relaxation of harsh COVID regulations that had essentially closed China’s borders for three years.

The tourism boom helps countries that depend heavily on Chinese tourists and their spending for economic growth. However, a faltering mainland economy and unstable financial markets cast doubt on the possibility of a sustained comeback in overseas travel, forcing Chinese consumers to make domestic spending cuts.

Trip.com reports that since 2019, reservations to well-liked destinations including Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia have increased by more than 30%. Furthermore, there has been a rise in Chinese travel to South Korea, Japan, Macau, and Hong Kong. Year-over-year increases in hotel bookings in Bangkok and Singapore are indicative of the impact of visa waivers.

In Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, spending on the Chinese mobile payment network Alipay increased by 7.5% over 2019 levels and more than seven times over the previous year. Only 82% of 2019 levels have been reached in overall consumer expenditure, indicating that consumers are still being cautious.

The Middle East has been a popular destination for Lunar New Year’s travel, with a significant rise seen in travel to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Large casino operators like Sands China and Wynn Macau benefited from a surge in Chinese tourists to Macau, the only legal gambling destination in China.

According to JP Morgan, Macau’s gross gaming revenues are likely to surpass US$124 million on a daily basis, marking the highest level in over four years. Additionally, gross gaming revenues are predicted to rise by at least 80% year over year in February.

Chinese tourists to South Korea increased by 4% in 2019; they favored independent travel over organized group excursions. Comparably, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, the operator of department stores in Japan, reported much higher duty-free sales, which they largely attributed to the Chinese New Year.

Research indicates that Chinese tourists are now more interested in experience-based travel and are spending more on overseas car rentals, food and drink, and beautiful excursions than they were prior to the COVID pandemic.

Original story by: The Edge Malaysia

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