MADRID — China will continue to be a growth market for tourists traveling, an official with the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Jan 21.
John Kestor, the director of the tourist market trends program at UNWTO, said China has been growing as a tourism source market with “double digit growth” every year since 2014 and this growth was repeated in 2015.
“There are more Chinese traveling throughout the world all of the time,” Kestor said at the FITUR tourism exhibition here, adding the main destination for Chinese tourists was Asia, with important growth in the number of visitors to Thailand and Japan.
There was also “rapid growth” toward European destinations and North America, but there are limits on that growth, partly because of limits to “airline capacity” and visa availability.
“If you have another half a million Chinese who want to travel to Europe and North America, you need to have an apparatus in place in order to deal with that number of applications,” he said.
The UNWTO does not expect the supposed slowdown in the Chinese economy to put a break on the number of people looking to travel outside of China.
“You need to put the slowdown in perspective, it’s a slowdown from 7 percent to 5 or 6 percent,” Kestor said, adding it was a growth that many nations would be “very jealous” about.
“We see a country with 1.4 billion population of which over half of that now live in urban centers and there several hundreds of millions with the means to travel internationally,” he stated.
While there is continued high growth in the number of Chinese people traveling abroad, there was a 2 percent growth on inbound tourists last year with 56.9 million visitors to China, according to the UNWTO, well below the world average growth of 4.4 percent witnessed in 2015.
Kestor highlighted the lack of airline capacity as the root of the problem. “There is such pressure on capacity with the outbound market, so there may be an issue with the inbound,” he said, adding the rising value of the yuan also makes it an expensive destination for many European and Asian travelers.