By 2018, the Chinese tourists have caught the attention of travel agencies, hotels and tour package providers everywhere in the world. In the beginning of the 2000s, Chinese citizens have made only around 10,5 million trips, but by 2017 the number has grown to 145 million. Less than in 20 years the market of the international tourism of China has reached the highest positions in the world, having outstripped even the USA.
Figure 6. World’s TOP tourism spenders 2017
This figure shows that in 2017 and up until today, Chinese travelers became the world’s biggest spenders together with the USA and Germany, spending around $258 billion overseas in the year of 2017. Chinese travelers today are the top source of tourism cash in the world. UNWTO also stated that about 100 million Chinese tourists are expected to travel abroad by 2020.
Leisure tourism makes up 31% of the total amount of outbound tourism from China. Thailand, South Korea and Japan are the top three popular travel destinations . They spend money on shopping, food and entertainment. Chinese tourists are mostly travelling in groups organized by the tour agencies and these groups usually consist of tourists with different age including the senior age. The Chinese pensioners travelling abroad are very important for the tourist market because they have more free time and often money as well as often they can travel off-season.
China is also rapidly developing its touristic potential. Tourism is one of leading and the most dynamically developing branches of the Chinese economy. The statistical data published by World Tourism Organization demonstrate that on the volume of currency income from the international tourism China came to the forth place in the world and continues to show steady dynamics of growth of this indicator. The recognition of tourism as a strategically important sector of the Chinese economy has provided significant support to the industry from the Chinese government.
3.2 Chinese inbound tourism to Russia
Tourists from China took the leading position in the ranking of entry to Russia and confidently hold its positions. Over the past 5 years, with an average growth of inbound tourism to Russia from 2 to 10%, the average rate of tourist flow from China was 35%. And the peak of growth occurred during the 2012 large – scale campaign within the Year of Russian tourism in the People’s Republic of China, when more than 200 events took place that popularize Russia as a tourist destination, for example, the Beijing-Moscow motor rally.
In 2013, for the first time, Chinese citizens’ entry into Russia crossed the million mark. The total number of visits by residents of the PRC to the Russian Federation amounted to 1 071 515 of them with the purpose of tourism our country was visited by 372 thousand people, for official purposes – 385 thousand people. Over half a million Chinese citizens entered Russia in the first half of the year. Positive forecasts experts associate with a favorable atmosphere between the countries at the highest level, the launch of new international flights between Russia and China, the implementation of visa-free policy in the framework of group tours.
According to experts of the world without borders Tourism Association, which promotes the development of inbound tourism to Russia from the Asia-Pacific region, the tourist flow from China should increase due to the introduction of sanctions by Western European countries and the increase in the negative media image around our country in foreign media, the entry from Europe is expected to further fall, but the flow of tourists from Asian countries on contrary remains stable and has good potential for further development.
3.3 The current state of tourist flows from China to the Irkutsk region.
For the host countries the greatest value is the emergence of the new national markets of outbound tourism. Several years ago Russia didn’t pay much attention to a research of the Chinese outbound tourism and its economic effect for the Siberian region of the country. In the Russian economical and geographical science this phenomenon was studied only on a level to attract Chinese tourists to a capital city of Moscow and St. Petersburg. But now the situation has changed and more cities and region in Russia are building the infrastructure and trying to attract the international tourists. Taking into account high dynamics of the Chinese outbound tourism, its high profitability and also the spontaneous nature of his development, there is an urgent need of a scientific research of the Chinese tourists preferences and the way to attract them for the Irkutsk region of Siberia.
Over the years, China has been a leader among foreign citizens in the number of tourist arrivals in the Irkutsk region. In 2017, 135.7 thousand Chinese tourists visited the Irkutsk region, which is 64.3% of the total number of foreign citizens who visited our region. A high proportion of foreign tourists are guests from the Republic of Korea, Germany, Mongolia, France, USA, Japan, the UK, Poland and Switzerland.
There is also cooperation between the Irkutsk region and the regions of China on a government level. During the visit of the delegation of the Irkutsk region led by the Governor Sergei Levchenko in Harbin (Russian-Chinese EXPO) the Protocol of intentions in the field of tourism between the tourism Agency of the Irkutsk region and the Committee on tourism development of Heilongjiang province was signed. The parties plan to develop cooperation in the field of tourism to increase the flow of tourists from the two regions and ensure the quality of the services. The document provided the exchange of information on the tourism potential of the regions, cooperation in the field of tourism promotion, promotion of cooperation between tourist information centers and tourist associations of the Irkutsk region and Heilongjiang province and the organization of meetings to summarize the results of cooperation and discuss plans for the next year.
In September 2017, representatives of the Irkutsk region held a meeting with the Director of the International Department of the Chinese company FliggyCo. (subsidiary of Alibaba Group) Mr. Zhang Yun. At the meeting, the Irkutsk region gave a presentation of tourist opportunities of the region, as well as the special economic zone of tourist “Baikal gate” and the Chinese side made proposals in the field of development of tourism infrastructure as well as interaction with the system “AliTrip” – an electronic platform that provides information for Chinese citizens about tourist sites around the world.