The latest research from Colliers International, in partnership with ATM 2019, reveals that the GCC countries currently attract just one percent of China’s total outbound market, however positive trends are expected over the coming years as 400 million Chinese tourists are expected to go abroad in 2030 – up from 154 million from this year.
Looking at the economic drivers, China’s links with the GCC have strengthened in recent years due to the introduction of additional and direct airline routes; the strong growth of the Chinese economy and Chinese tourists’ increasing disposable income.
Keen to capitalise on this potential, figures from ATM 2018 show 25 percent of delegates, exhibitors and attendees were interested in doing business with China.
Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said, “China is set to account for a quarter of international tourism by 2030 – and owing to its many business and investment opportunities, as well as a new generation of leisure attractions and retail destinations, the GCC is set to capitalise on this growth with millions of Chinese tourists about to make their first international trip.”
In 2017 the number of Chinese exhibitors participating at ATM almost doubled and this trend looks set to continue as we look ahead to ATM 2019.
According to Curtis, over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC and today we have seen more hotel and travel professionals than ever before eager to capitalise on the significant opportunities presented by the Chinese market.
The Colliers data shows Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 33 percent between this year and 2022. Both the Kingdom and China’s cultural and educational exchanges have been cited as one of the key elements driving this influx.
Looking at the remainder of the GCC, the UAE will follow with a forecasted CAGR of 13 percent, Oman at 12 percent and both Bahrain and Kuwait will steadily increase their Chinese visitor arrivals with a growth of seven percent.
In the UAE, China is the fifth largest source market behind India, Saudi Arabia, the UK and Oman. Over the last 12 months, the UAE has stepped up its efforts to attract more Chinese visitors with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently signing an agreement with Chinese internet giant Tencent to promote the emirate as a preferred destination for Chinese travellers.
Meanwhile, in Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait passport holders from the People’s Republic of China can now receive a thirty-day visa on arrival.