With an average spend of US$987 each time they take a trip out of China, the Chinese travellers have become the biggest spenders of all on shopping during outbound trips, according to a recent study conducted by ACNielsen and Tax Free World Association (TFWA).

A recent survey conducted by TFWA and ACNielsen surveyed 1,500 Chinese citizens in the three key cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou who had travelled for business and leisure to Hong Kong, Macau, Asia or European countries in the past six months, to understand attitudes and behaviour towards overseas travel and shopping.

"Outbound travel from China reached 29 million in 2004, representing a more than 43% increase on 2003," said Thom Rankin, Vice President for Conference & Research, Tax Free World Association. "While the Chinese may be second to Japanese travellers in the total amount spent on a trip, they out-ranked them in how much they spend on shopping which accounts for 30 percent of their entire travel budget on average, according to industry experts." The survey conducted by TFWA and ACNielsen reveals that nearly 100% of Chinese travellers will shop during their trip.

"With increased disposable incomes, the Chinese are turning to overseas travel, and exploring new and interesting places. Their enthusiasm for travel is a welcome sign, not only for holiday operators, but for related industries such as luxury brand owners and duty free shops," said Glen Murphy, Managing Director of ACNielsen China.

Women and the young are China`s major outbound travellers

Currently overseas travel is enjoyed by just a small minority in China. According to the latest study which covered the three main cities, only one in 10 of adults have currently travelled overseas. The rate of travel amongst those in the less developed cities is even lower, an indication of the huge market potential Chinese consumers present to the world`s tourism and related industries.

Guangzhou generates the greatest number of outbound leisure travellers, the majority of whom travel to nearby Hong Kong and Macau.

Compared to the general population, the travel population is dominated by females and younger individuals, with over two thirds (69%) being women and one third (36%) aged between 20 and 29.

"Outbound travellers are generally drawn from the higher social demographics, they`re better educated, have higher incomes and therefore have greater spending power. With the greater percentage of travellers being women, they are more likely to shop and the younger travellers are more willing to try new things and are brand conscious," said Mr. Murphy.

Hong Kong remains Chinese outbound travellers` shopping paradise

According to the survey, Asian countries are favored by the mainland Chinese because of their proximity and ease of access. Not surprisingly, Hong Kong (76%) is the most popular destination for the Chinese tourists, followed by other Asian countries (61%) and Macau (48%) according to the statistics from 2000 to 2004.

The survey shows over 70 percent of respondents named sightseeing the major reason for travel.

"In these early days of China`s outbound travel boom, the simple thrill of travel and seeing something new and different is the primary motivation for travel. Shopping, however, is quite important as a secondary reason," commented Mr. Murphy. Hong Kong has been renowned as the `shopping paradise` and it has certainly maintained the reputation amongst the travelling Chinese for over 70 percent of those who visited to Hong Kong claimed shopping was their motivation for travel.

Average spending on an outbound trip reaches US$987

According to ACNielsen, high street shops are the most popular shopping channel, with 88 per percent of China`s travelling public claiming to visit them. 61 percent also visited duty-free channels.

"With Chinese travellers’ average shopping spend reaching US$1,000, it has now exceeded what Japanese travellers spend," added Mr. Rankin>. "However, travellers to European destinations tend to spend even more, with an average spending of US$1,781." The survey also shows that travellers from Shanghai tend to spend more than those from other urban areas.

Given that China`s outbound market is dominated by female travellers, it`s not surprising to see that Fashion (purchased by 53%), Cosmetics (50%), Confectionery (50%) ranked among the top three items for Chinese travellers. (See Chart 5) That spending pattern contrasts sharply with travellers to Europe - who favour Wine and Spirits, Fragrance and Tobacco.