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Big Data: Chinese Tourism to Europe Keep Growing in H1 2019
According to CTA, about 81.29 million Chinese tourists are expected to make overseas trips in the first half of this year, up 14% over the previous year. Among them, 3 million Chinese tourists made trips to Europe, up 7.4%.
A China-EU Tourism Big Data Report H1 2019 was released recently by the China Tourism Academy (CTA) and the HCG Travel Group, analyzing the market size and growth trend of European tourism, the popularity of departure provinces and destination countries, as well as consumer characteristics and preferences. 
The report was based on the big data of millions of vacation products on Ctrip online platform and its over 7,000 offline stores throughout China, as well as HCG’s European tourism data covering group tours, tailor-made tours, tickets, visas and other products and user. 
I. Favorable policies boost travel to Europe
According to the statistics of CTA, European countries took up a quarter of top 20 destination countries for Chinese tourists, including Eastern Europe where more countries participate in China’s Belt and Road initiative. Last year, more than 6 million Chinese tourists visited Europe, with 36.3% of them visiting Eastern Europe, surpassing that of Western Europe (32.8%), Northern Europe (16.6%) and Southern Europe (14.2%), and the year-on-year growth rate was over 20%. 
Thanks to favorable policies on visa, flights, exchange rate and consumer services, Chinese tourism to Europe continues to grow in 2019. According to CTA, about 81.29 million Chinese tourists are expected to make overseas trips in the first half of this year, up 14% over the previous year. Among them, 3 million Chinese tourists made trips to Europe, up 7.4%. The number of tourists booking trips to Europe in the first half of 2019 increased by 12.3% year-on-year, according to the statistics of HCG Travel Group. According to Ctrip, Europe is the second most popular destination for Chinese tourists, accounting for 10%, being next only to Asia.
It’s the right season to travel in Europe as the RMB continues to weaken against the USD. Big drops in exchange rate made Iceland, Norway, Hungary, Sweden, Russia, and UK the most cost-effective outbound destinations  during this summer, and therefore attracted more Chinese tourists. According to Ctrip, the number of tourists booking group tours, independent tours, customized tours, and other products to Norway and Iceland increased by 84% and 60% year-on-year respectively; the number of tourists to Russia and the UK both rose 34%; and the per capita consumption of tourists to Sweden and Hungary enjoyed a decrease of 23% and 12% respectively.
In the first half of this year, a number of new flight routes were opened, including direct flights from Shanghai to Budapest, Shenzhen to Dublin, Beijing to Oslo, Shenzhen to Rome, Hangzhou to Rome, Chengdu to Rome, and Guangzhou-Urumqi to Vienna, making it easier for Chinese tourists to travel to Europe. 
II. Emerging destinations are gaining popularity  
Based on the statistics of Ctrip, the top 10 most popular destinations in Europe in the first half of 2019 were Russia, Italy, France, the UK, Germany, Spain, Greece, the Czech republic, Switzerland and Portugal, in order. While traditional destinations remain popular with group tours, central and eastern Europe group tours are attracting a lot of attention; the top 10 ‘black horse’ destinations were Croatia, Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Albania, Serbia, Malta, Ireland and Denmark, with the number of tourists to Croatia rising 540% year-on-year. According to the HCG Travel Group, Andorra, Monaco, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are emerging as popular group tour destinations for Chinese tourists.
III. Source cities of Chinese tourists to Europe 
Statistics show that in the first half of this year, the top 10 source cities of Chinese tourists to Europe were Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming, Xi’an, Nanjing and Wuhan, and the top 10 ‘dark horse’ departure cities were Guiyang, Shenyang, Qingdao, Hefei, Taiyuan, Nanning, Hangzhou, Changchun, Dalian and Nanchang, with the number of tourists from Guiyang significantly rising 526% year-on-year.
IV. High diamond grade products accounted for nearly 80%
In the first half of this year, women accounted for 62.9% of the Chinese tourists to Europe, while men accounted for 37.1%; the post-50s and post-60s generations accounted for more than 50% of the total tourists, while the post-70s generation accounted for 12.7%; in terms of per capita consumption, Chinese tourists booking group tours to Europe spent an average of RMB11,920.7, slightly higher than that in 2018. 
Among the European tourism products booked through the HCG Travel Group in 2019, the high diamond grade products accounted for nearly 80%, among which the comfortable 4-diamond products accounted for 63.0%, and the 5-diamond or above products accounted for 12.1%. 
V. The era of ‘new group tour’ quality tourism is coming.  
70% of tourists choose to travel with groups due to language barriers, visa, cultural diversity and other factors. After years of development, Chinese tourists no longer like low-quality, low-cost group tours with forced consumption and poor quality in food and accommodations, but prefer small, tailor-made, theme-oriented and high-quality group tours. Nowadays,  Chinese tourists want not only a happy and comfortable holiday, but also a quality and unique vacation.
According to the data, the number of tourists travelling to Europe in personalized private groups increased by 120% year-on-year, accounted for 5% of the total tourists to Europe. The average number of tourists joining in customized private groups was only 3.2, only one tenth of the foretime groups of 30-40 pax.
Figures show that among the tourists who joined in private tours to Europe in H1 2019, the post-80s generation accounted for 25%, followed by the post-70s generation accounting for 22%, the post-60s generation for 15%, the post-90s and post-00s generation for 13% each and the post-50s generation for 12%. The per capita consumption for Chinese tourists who joined in personalized private tours to Europe in H1 2019 was RMB 13,661. 
Tourists who joined in private tours to Europe usually prefer in-depth tours. In H1 2019, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Nanjing, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou, Xiamen and Suzhou were the top 10 departure cities for private tours to Europe; the top 10 popular destinations were the UK, Russia, Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Data shows that the tourists booking personalized tours to Europe through Ctrip increased by 315% year-on-year in H1 2019, accounting for 8% of the total tourists to Europe. According to tourists’ needs for European Customized Tours, these top 10 themes attracted much attention: travel photography, history & culture, hidden gems, fashion & arts, fairy tale trip, hiking, education, northern lights, cruise and spring & skiing.
With the increase of direct flights, more and more tourists choose to book their own transportation and join in local group tours at the destination. According to the report, among the outbound tourism products on Ctrip, the number of tourists who joined in group tours at the destination has reached 10%. In H1 2019, the number of tourists who joined in local group tours increased by 25% year-on-year. According to Ctrip, the UK, France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany are among the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists to join in local group tours.
VI. MICE tourists to Europe increased by 400%. France enjoyed the highest popularity. 
According to the data of HCG Travel Group, the MICE tourists to Europe in H1 2019 increased by 400% year-on-year. The most popular countries for MICE in Europe were France, Switzerland, Russia, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, the UK and Portugal. Besides fully-equipped conference facilities and mature reception resources, France has the important advantage of convenient transportation. By the first half of the year, the number of cities in China with flights to Paris had increased to 12. Except for Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, passengers can also take direct flights from Fuzhou (Xiamen Airlines), Qingdao (Chine Eastern Airlines), Shenzhen, Chongqing, Guiyang (Hainan Airlines) and Jinan (Air France) to Paris, which helped France maintain its position as the most popular MICE destination in Europe in H1 2019. 
The fastest growing MICE destinations in Europe were Switzerland, France, Portugal, Czech republic, Russia, Norway, Germany and the UK. Switzerland enjoyed the biggest year-on-year increase, dramatically by 19,900%; the Czech Republic, Russia and Norway doubled their growth rates; while Germany and UK, which have always been the preferred destinations for MICE groups, maintain a steady growth trend throughout the year.   
In general, Europe has always been a popular MICE destination. From the perspective of business meetings, fam trip and public relations activities, the MICE industry in Europe is rich in resources and mature, and has experience and state-of-art technologies for holding world-class conferences, and that’s why many of the top professional industry conferences choose Europe. From the perspective of incentive tour, the selection of Europe for outbound conferences and incentive tours highlights the strength of the enterprise, and at the same time motivates its employees. 
To know more statistics in China outbound Market, please contact:
Relevant news in Chinese: 中国旅游研究院:2019上半年中国游客赴欧洲旅游大数据报告
  Source: China Tourism Academy & HCG Travel Group

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