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Golden Week update: 6 million outbound Chinese travellers expected

By Juwai, 04 October 2016
chinese golden week shopping travels

6 million – that’s how many Chinese travellers expected to jet out of China this Golden Week, according to a recent survey.1

That’s a 2 million increase from last year’s 4 million Chinese outbound tourists.

The survey, conducted by China Tourism Academy and online travel portal giant Ctrip, surveyed over 1.7 billion Ctrip app users who also shared their top travel destinations this Golden Week1 – which included the top 6 holiday destinations we predicted before.

Indeed, with Golden Week in full swing now, countries worldwide are pulling no punches in their marketing gambits to entice Chinese visitors and the massive spending power they bring along with them. We take a look at how some of the popular holiday destinations for Golden Week are faring so far:

South Korea

Last year’s Golden Week saw 210,000 Chinese visitors to South Korea2, but already the Korea Tourism Organization are predicting 40,000 more Chinese arrivals, who will spend over 600 billion Korean Won in South Korea. After all, beyond the allure of tax-free shopping, close proximity to China, and massive k-pop culture wave still sweeping across China, there’s also the added appeal of the much-touted Korea Grand Sale that will be held for the entire month of October.3 While we're only halfway through Golden Week, we eagerly await to see how South Korea will fare this year against other strong contenders, such as the UK and last year’s #1 Golden Week destination, Japan.

United Kingdom

With the sharp depreciation of the British pound post-Brexit, Ctrip estimates that a Chinese holiday to the UK is approximately 20% cheaper than last year.4 This makes the UK definitely prime pickings for Chinese travellers this Golden Week – many who are serious bargain hunters, be it for luxury goods or UK property. In fact, early indicators were already looking good – tax-free tourist expenditure in London’s West End jumped 44% y-o-y in August 2016, while Chinese visitor spending surged by 65% to an average of £1,453 per shopper, according to Global Blue.5 Would this momentum carry forward throughout Golden Week as well? We think it highly likely.


Like the UK, the weak AUD against the CNY has bolstered Chinese visitors to the Land Down Under. With more Chinese flocking over to Australia than ever, so has the arrival of the infamous Chinese ‘daigou’ shoppers, which literally translates into ‘buying on behalf of’. One just has to look at the 5,000 ‘daigous’ who attended the China eCommerce Expo in Sydney last Saturday, as well as the 2,000 who showed up at the same even in Melbourne last Sunday.6 From milk powders to UGG boots to health supplements, it was stiff competition as these ‘daigou’ shoppers hustled and instantly marketed these highly demanded Australian products via WeChat.6 And while the newly-imposed foreign buyer taxes have caused much furor, Chinese buyers are still loving Australian property, we’re guessing Australia must be swamped with Chinese visitors right now.


Even the threat of the Zika virus isn’t capable of scaring off Chinese tourists. According to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), 220,000 Chinese arrivals in Thailand Week – a robust 30% growth from the year before8 – are expected to circulate 7.8 billion Baht ($225 million)7 into the Thai economy this Golden Week.8 Knowing this, the Thai government has gone to great lengths to welcome Chinese visitors – the Suvarnabhumi International Airport (Bangkok Airport) has prepared Chinese translators, Chinese signs in the airport, souvenirs, traditional dance entertainment, and even switched up airport staff uniforms into Thai traditional costumes.8 With such VIP treatments combined with the fact that Thailand is an ideal retirement hotspot for Chinese that offers beach paradises and idyllic lifestyles, we anticipate Chinese property buyers would present in full force this week as well.


From offering free limousine rides, discounts, and lucky draws for China UnionPay users to the all-new Singapore version of ‘Golden Week’3, the Lion City has definitely hopped onto the bandwagon chasing after Chinese tourists. While Singapore faces stiff competition from other retail havens like South Korea and the UK, falling property prices in Singapore may make up for it by drawing more Chinese shopping for property instead. According to JPMorgan in Singapore, Singaporean luxury properties are now selling at prices roughly 165% lesser than in London, Hong Kong, and New York.9 Additionally, Mandarin is widely spoken in Singapore, and that's a definite plus point for both Chinese tourists and investors alike.


With the convenience of relaxed visa policies from various countries, improved accessibility of increased flight connectivity, and the affordability arising from the growing wealth in China, international travel now more prevalent and no longer a distinct luxury as before.

That said, with the fast-burgeoning Chinese middle-class now increasingly venturing out of China for overseas holiday, we look forward to keeping you posted with recap when Golden Week wraps up at the end of this week.



Sources: 1. China Tourism Academy and CTrip; 2. Jing Daily: China’s Golden Week: What to expect from over 750 million on the move in 2016; 3. Bloomberg: Singapore’s ‘Golden Week’ courts China tourists as retail falls; 4. The Guardian: UK shops look to Chinese tourists for a golden week at the tills; 5. Drapers: Retailers prepare for bumper Chinese Golden Week; 6. Financial Review: Golden Week explodes as daigous scramble for milk powder, vitamins and cosmetics; 7. Asia One: Millions of Chinese tourists begin Golden Week holiday; 8. The Star: Chinese flocking to Thailand during ‘Golden Week’ break; 9. SCMP: Singapore’s luxury property may finally be ‘cheap’