Chinese Tourists Are Vital For ASEAN Tourism

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Senior business players in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) tourist industry will gather from Jan. 14 to 18 in Ha Long city in Vietnam for the 38th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) to discuss the sustainable, inclusive and balanced development of tourism in Southeast Asia.

They will certainly discuss Chinese tourists — who are the main source of tourism dollars in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines — and related matters, including the issue of so-called “zero-dollar tourism”.

Under “zero-dollar tourism”, Chinese visitors are offered heavily discounted and all-inclusive package group tours in which they must do their shopping at designated shops or retail outlets at a marked-up price. The payment at these shops must be made using Chinese digital payment platforms like WeChat and Alipay in Chinese renminbi.

ASEAN tourism ministers will hold their annual ASEAN Tourism Ministerial Meeting from Jan.17 to 18 as main part of the ATF. They will meet their Chinese counterpart to discuss the fast-growing Chinese outbound tourism market and also design plans and strategies to attract more Chinese tourists to Southeast Asia.

Chinese tourists are ubiquitous across the globe. Even if one visits the most remote tourist area in Africa, there will be at least a few Chinese tourists there. It could almost be said that there is no tourist spot on planet without Chinese visitors.

There are several reasons for the sky-rocketing numbers of Chinese tourists during the last 15 years. First China is the most populous country in the world with 1.41 billion people and they constitute roughly one fifth of the global population.

Second, China, whose per capita GDP—according to the World Bank– was US$8,827 in 2017, has a 430-million strong middle class and 60 percent of its 1.41 billion people live in urban areas.

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