A Wealthier China Means More Chinese Tourists With Expensive Taste


As China moves towards being an economic superpower, its citizens have gained a greater ability to travel and spend internationally. Now, Chinese are increasingly the driving force for the world’s biggest tourism companies. China last year passed Germany and the U.S. to become the world’s biggest source of tourists, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.  In 2000, Chinese people made just 10 million trips abroad. Now, they are making their presence felt all over the world — sometimes to the dismay of their leaders back home. And the Chinese are big spenders, with tourists from the mainland spending $102 billion on overseas trips last year, a 40% jump over 2011 spending.

As the Chinese are now a lot more affluent than they were10 years ago, they can afford more luxury products in Europe and the United States. Because of this, many are prone to prodigious spending. It is interesting to note that Chinese tourists spend more on shopping than sightseeing. There is a simple psychology to this: After decades of deprivation and conformism, Chinese consumers regard expensive consumer goods as trophies of success. In public, they show off. In private, they pinch pennies. Chinese tourists largely prefer lively, loud environments where they can shop for Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags, while European tourists tend to prefer a more tranquil, back-to-nature kind of experience. The Chinese demand for luxury goods has increased for a number of reasons, including rapidly increasing disposable income, sophistication of Chinese consumers, and rapid urbanization (many of these tourists come from Shanghai, China's wealthiest city).

Louis Vuitton, in particular, is a favorite shopping destination. In fact, Chinese consumers have become the largest consumers of the company's products worldwide. The shopping habits of these consumers differ from other citizens: More than 95% of Chinese tourists arrive on tour buses, leading to a quick spike in customer volume and posing a challenge for staff charged with providing premium service to each individual shopper.

With the increasing Chinese economic growth, tourism trends will likely continue.