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The number of Chinese outbound tourists in 2014 totaled 107 million, a year-on-year growth of 19.5%, making China the largest tourist exporting country in the world for three consecutive years. This bodes well for China UnionPay which is almost exclusively rules the payment card for these tourists.
China Tourism Academy, a specialized research institute under China’s National Tourism Administration released a report entitled 2015 Annual Development Report of Chinese Outbound Tourism, indicating that the number of outbound travelers from China has exceeded 100 million for the first time, making China the single largest tourist exporting country in the world for three consecutive years. It is estimated that the growth momentum is going to remain throughout 2015. The report also points out that UnionPay have become the preferred payment brand among outbound Chinese travelers.
The report indicates that flexible tourism policies are crucial to driving the growth in China’s outbound tourism industry, which stakeholders endeavor to promote. UnionPay has become the preferred payment service provider of Chinese outbound travelers, offering its services through a network of 26 million merchants and 1.9 million ATMs across over 150 countries and regions. Meanwhile, an increasing number of overseas merchants consider acceptance of UnionPay cards an important way to attract customers, especially Chinese customers. Therefore, UnionPay acceptance has become an important criterion for assessing the level of satisfaction of Chinese travelers with their overseas travel experience.
Research results of the report show middle- and high-end consumer groups represented nearly half of all outbound travelers in 2014, 40% of all outbound travelers spent over 15,000 RMB in a single trip, and for 88.1% shopping represented their major expenditures during the trip. Total expenditures for outbound tourism have grown from 40.987 billion USD to 164.8 billion USD in 2014, quadrupled within six years.
The report states that the development of the payment networks such as UnionPay has made payment more convenient in an outbound trip every step of the way, which drives the growth momentum in outbound tourism. Prior to departure, UnionPay cardholders can purchase air tickets via UnionPay cards at the official websites of more than 10 overseas airlines and make reservations via Agoda and Booking.com. During the trip, they can pay with UnionPay cards not only in major department stores, but also at supermarkets, in amusement parks and taxis in major destinations worldwide. Upon return, they can do tax refund easily through UnionPay cards.
According to the report, short haul trips still dominate China’s outbound tourism market, with Hong Kong and Macao being the top two destinations jointly accounting for half of the market shares and Asia the primary destination among all continents. The top ten countries as destinations of outbound tourism from China in 2014 are Korea, Thailand, Japan, America, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, Indonesia and Australia respectively. The report projects that the progress of regional integration is bound to be accelerated with the cooperation of One Belt and One Road, which will promote the tourism industry in the countries involved.
A survey on the levels of satisfaction of Chinese outbound travelers with the top 24 destinations shows that New Zealand, Singapore, America, Canada and Australia are the highest-ranking in terms of customer satisfaction, taking into account their abilities to meet high demands of Chinese tourist handbooks, Chinese restaurants, television programs in Chinese as well as UnionPay acceptance.
The report also indicates payment via UnionPay cards in overseas destinations most popular among Chinese travelers has become very convenient. At present, almost all merchants accepting signature-based cards in Korea accept UnionPay credit cards, with another 1.37 million merchants accepting pin-based UnionPay cards. In Singapore, UnionPay cards are accepted by all ATMs and over 70% of merchants, in the US, 90% of ATMs and 80% of merchants and in Australia, more than 80% of ATMs and nearly 50% of merchants, covering most of the places frequented by tourists.
Meanwhile, UnionPay is also improving its acceptance footprint in countries involved in the “Belt and Road Initiative”. UnionPay cards are now accepted by nearly 70% of ATMs and over 50% of merchants in Kazakhstan, 70% of ATMs and nearly 90% of POS terminals in Pakistan. In addition, all merchants in UAE can now accept UnionPay cards and ATM acceptance coverage will reach100% by the end of this year. In Mongolia, almost all POS terminals and ATMs accept UnionPay cards, and UnionPay’s coverage in Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and has also been growing.
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