Colliers International predicts China will maintain its position as a top source market across the GCC, particularly in the UAE, where Chinese visitors are currently the second and fourth highest ranked source markets for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, respectively.Adding to this, the data predicts that UAE will continue to be the preferred GCC destination for Chinese tourists, welcoming a projected 1.9 million visitors by 2023.
Saudi Arabia will follow with 1 million visitors, while Oman will welcome 76,900, Bahrain 26,300 and Kuwait 2,800.
Arabian Travel Market’s Exhibition Director ME, Danielle Curtis, said: “China’s links with the GCC have strengthened in recent years due to the introduction of additional and direct airline routes; relaxed visa regulations; the strong growth of the Chinese economy and Chinese tourists’ increasing disposable income.
“The recent influx in Chinese visitors to the GCC shows no sign of abating as we look ahead to 2023 and beyond – owing largely to the many business and investment opportunities that the region presents, as well as a new generation of leisure attractions and retail destinations,” he added.
Chinese tourists are the world’s highest spenders while travelling abroad, with total outbound travel and tourism expenditure reaching US$277 billion in 2018, according to the Colliers data.
“Focusing on the GCC, Chinese visitors to the region are expected to generate an estimated $3.48 billion in travel and tourism revenue by 2023, an increase of 71% when compared with figures from 2018,” said Curtis.
“In 2018 Bahrain witnessed the highest average spend per visit at $2,567. Saudi Arabia followed with an average Chinese tourist spend per trip reaching US$1,582, very closely followed by the UAE at $1,459 and Kuwait and Oman reaching $1,167 and $730 respectively.”
Despite Bahrain experiencing the highest average spend last year, it is the UAE that ranked the 9th most popular destination in the world for the 1.67 million Chinese outbound High Net-Worth Individual (HNWI) travellers, according to the Chinese Outbound Travel Research Institute (COTRI) in collaboration with C-Trip.
These HNW travellers are estimated to spend an average of $3,410 on their travel package alone, not including additional spend on F&B, retail and leisure activities.