According to the latest data released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, China’s tourism trade deficit reached $237.4 billion in 2018, an increase of $21.4 billion over the prev
ious year. While the record high figure reflects the growing scale of outbound tourism consumption by domestic residents, it remains qu
estionable whether the domestic demand is so strong that it even caused the record outbound tourism consumption.
However, by analyzing relevant reports and statistics, I believe some of the figures about China’s tourism industry may
be dodgy, which could therefore be misleading for investment decision-making and should be clarified.
According to the preliminary statistics of the China Tourism Academy, Chinese travelers made 140 million outbound trips in 2018, up 1
1 million from 129 million in 2017. To a certain extent, the steady increase in the number of Chinese o
utbound trips indicates that the consumption is still growing and not falling.
But the important question is how many people actually traveled abroad
out of the 140 million outbound trips. According to the Annual Report of China Outbound Tou
rism Development 2018, Chinese trips to foreign countries and regions accounted for about 33.3 percent of total out
bound trips in 2017. Assuming that the ratio remained unchanged in 2018, then the number of trips to foreign c
ountries and regions came to about 46.67 million. Again assuming that half of the people who went abroad on av
erage twice last year, then the number of Chinese who went to foreign countries and regions was approximately 31 million.