Overseas Chinese Tourism Trends during the Chinese National Day 2018

China has become the largest source of outbound tourists and consumers in the world. The Chinese National Holiday (1 Oct to 7 Oct of this year) is a peak travel season that drives Chinese tourists abroad. In 2018, the number of outbound Chinese tourists during this time reached 700 million.

Shortly after the Chinese National Day holiday, WeChat, UnionPay, and Alipay (the top 3 mobile payment service providers) released their data reports on Chinese tourism consumption during the holiday.

Today, we’ll discuss some of the overseas Chinese tourism trends highlighted in the reports.

Chinese tourists prefer mobile pay


WeChat’s report shows that WeChat Pay is available in over 40 countries, and Chinese tourists are increasingly choosing digital pay while traveling.

Thailand was the top foreign country using WeChat Pay this year. The remaining 9 of the top 10 include Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, America, Vietnam, and Indonesia. These are popular travel destinations for Chinese people.

Top 10 countries using WeChat Pay

Source: WeChat


UnionPay is the primary payment method for mainland Chinese people. Mobile payment, which is on the rise, requires a China UnionPay card.

During this year’s October Golden Week, the total amount of online UnionPay transactions reached CNY ¥1.58 trillion, and the total number of transactions reached 794 million, up an average of 31.9% and 24.5% respectively from last year.

UnionPay launched “Cloud QuickPass” on mobile, which supports not only offline contactless payment by mobile phones and other mobile devices, but also remote online payment. HCE, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay all participate in Cloud QuickPass. During the holiday, the average daily transaction amount of Cloud QuickPass payments increased by 102.8% from last year.


Alipay released a report showing that outbound travel and mobile pay is increasing for Chinese tourists. Fuzhou’s 70% per capita travel consumption growth rate made it the fastest growing city for overseas mobile payment. Other second-tier cities were close behind: Hangzhou (50%), Wuhan (31%), Tianjin (30%), Chengdu (26%), and Chongqing (21%). The leading first-tier cities included Shanghai (60%), Beijing (45%), Shenzhen (28%), and Guangzhou (27%).

Source: Alipay

The number of 50+ year-old Chinese tourists using mobile pay while traveling overseas increased 90%. The average per capita consumption of 30-48 year-olds increased 35%.

Source: Alipay

Moreover, Alipay published the world’s top destinations using digital pay:

  1. Osaka Dotonbori commercial center, Japan: Mobile payment grew 90 timesgreater than last year
  2. Sydney International Airport, Australia: Mobile payment grew 70 times greaterthan last year
  3. Osman Street, Paris, France: Mobile payment grew 55 times greater than last year
  4. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
  5. Toronto, Chinatown, Canada
  6. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia
  7. The MALL Village in Florence, Italy
  8. Flushing, New York, USA
  9. Myeongdong commercial center, Seoul, South Korea

The mobile transaction volume of department stores, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and transportation also increased significantly this year.

Cosmetics are the most popular purchase for Chinese tourists

Big data from Ly.com, an online travel service provider platform, shows that the top 3 popular items for outbound shopping during the October Golden week were cosmetics, interesting and practical goods, and local foods.

Compared with previous years, Chinese tourists were no longer keen to buy home products, such as rice cookers, toilet covers, etc. This outbound shopping trend has gradually changed.

Shopping travel gives way to leisure and experiential travel

It was also found that Chinese tourists are starting to prefer experiential travel. Self-funded tourism was more localised and included experiencing the local culture with such activities as special homestays, watching a show at the Sydney Opera House, having a marriage ceremony in the local church, etc. Moreover, the amount of UnionPay (and, in fact, all digital pay) transactions for overseas transportation, entertainment, supermarkets, restaurants, and accommodation continued to grow.

Chinese tourism destinations are more dispersed

Long-distance destinations, such as Europe, the United States, and Australia, are popular among Chinese tourists. The volume of transactions in emerging destinations, such as Mauritius, Morocco, Belgium, and Iceland, has increased significantly. Along with the “One Belt and One Road,” Cambodia, the Middle East, and Russia also grew in Chinese tourism numbers by about 30% since last year.

With the prevalence of the internet and social media, travel destinations, travel trends, and travel styles continuously change. Chat Chat can help you understand the social media, travelling, and purchasing preferences of the ever-growing demographic of Chinese tourists—and ultimately help you access and attract Chinese consumers to your business. Get in touch.

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