62% of Experienced Chinese Tourists Will Travel Internationally Again by 2023, According To Oliver Wyman

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Hong Kong, July 12 2023 – Affluent Chinese travelers are making a cautious return to exploring the globe. According to a recent survey by Oliver Wyman, 40% of respondents who had traveled internationally before COVID-19 have already taken international trips this year. The consultancy predicts that by 2023, 62% of experienced Chinese tourists will travel abroad again. These travelers are expected to spend around 48% of their travel budget on shopping, which is similar to pre-pandemic levels.

Full recovery might take longer than expected

The survey indicates international travel is not expected to fully recover until after second half of 2024. Of respondents who used to travel abroad before the pandemic but have no plans to do so this year, 24% are willing to travel in 2024, while 59% plan to resume their travels in 2025 or 2026. For those who have never traveled internationally before, only 37% would consider traveling before 2026.

One of the primary reasons deterring Chinese tourists from traveling abroad again is that they currently prefer to visit local destinations within China. An impressive 73% of past international travelers expressed satisfaction with the current domestic travel options. High flight costs (24%) and health risks concerns (22%) are another two concerns.

International luxury shopping makes a comeback, but not for Gen Z

Shopping has reclaimed its position from scenery exploration as the primary purpose of international travel for Chinese tourists - approximately 48% of their travel spending is expected to be allocated to shopping.

France and Italy are the top choices for luxury shopping for the affluent class, encompassing leather goods, apparel, jewelry, and watches. South Korea and Japan lead the beauty category. Hong Kong is still renowned for its luxury fashion and accessories shopping, while there has been a decline in the beauty category given the strong price competition posed by Hainan.

Amidst the resurgence of shopping as a top objective for travel among older generations, a notable trend emerges among Gen Z travelers – their pursuit of culinary delights. An overwhelming 62% of Gen Z respondents revealed that their travel motivations revolve around indulging in gastronomic experiences and savoring good food.

New luxury shoppers still prefer to shop at home

An earlier Oliver Wyman research indicated that over 50% of China’s luxury shoppers commenced their journey during the pandemic without prior luxury shopping experience abroad.

While 57% of those who purchased luxury abroad express a desire to continue spending more overseas, only one-third of those who only bought luxury in China plan to follow suit. A majority (55%) of these new luxury shoppers believe that the product availability within China is sufficient, and 36% indicate that their preferred luxury brands are already present in the country.

Chinese tourists are keen to revisit familiar destinations

According to survey, Hong Kong is the top travel destination, with 23% of respondents having either already visited or planning to visit in 2023. Other popular choices are Western Europe (16%), Japan (15%), and Korea (14%).

After the three-year break, Chinese travelers prefer to revisit places they have been to before. According to the survey, 32% of people who had previously visited Hong Kong before the pandemic are planning to revisit or have already revisited the city this year. In contrast, only 17% of those who have never been to Hong Kong are interested in visiting. Similarly, 27% of individuals who had previously visited Japan are eager to return in 2023, while only 10% of those who have never been there before are interested in visiting.

New Chinese international travelers who had not traveled internationally before the pandemic prefer short-haul destinations. The top three on their list are South Korea (16%), Hong Kong (13%), and Singapore (10%).

“Luxury brands face an organizational and systemic challenge to ensure impeccable service and international follow-up for their increasingly demanding Chinese customers. Those who succeed in meeting it will be the major beneficiaries of the announced return of Chinese customers,” said Kenneth Chow, a Retail and Consumer Goods Principal at Oliver Wyman.




About The Survey

In June 2023, Oliver Wyman conducted an online survey of 3,945 consumers over the age of 18 in mainland China. A detailed survey was completed on 1,000 affluent consumers who are planning for international leisure travels in 2023 and have a monthly household income of over RMB 30,000.


About Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in more than 70 cities across 30 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 6,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a business of Marsh McLennan [NYSE: MMC]. 

For more information, visit www.oliverwyman.com. Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman.