This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 20, 2013

Chinese Tourists To Outspend All Others Combined

Overseas travelers from China increased their spending by a huge 490 percent, between 2005 and 2012, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). In fact, last year Chinese tourists outspent citizens from all of the other countries of the globe. This surge is undeniably a reflection of China's growing middle class and it is certainly ironic in light of the government's desire to promote consumption at home.

According to the UNWTO, by the close of 2015, there will be an estimated 100 million Chinese traveling abroad. Building on that trend and using McKinsey's estimates from of the luxury goods market, Morgan Stanley determined that by 2015---two short years from now---Chinese tourists could be spending as much as USD$194 billion. Moreover, by 2015, remarkably, the "total Chinese spending abroad will exceed total global luxury sales, having been only one-third of the total in 2008".

These tourists travel to cities like London, Paris, and Hong Kong to buy Western or designer goods because in China import duties and other taxes add up to 60 percent to their costs. Plus, deep-pocketed Chinese shoppers are appreciated in many countries. The City of Paris has released a manual to help locals understand and appeal to the Asian visitors. In addition, a coastal town near Sydney, Australia is building a USD$500 million theme park with a full-size replica of Beijing's Forbidden City.

The implications for hotels, restaurants, airlines, and attractions are significant and far-reaching. Hotels and high-end restaurants outside of Asia will scramble to hire Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking front desk people. Restaurant menus and airline seat pocket instructions will be in Chinese. More airports in the major cities of the world will have signage in Chinese. Mandarin translators and interpreters will be in great demand.

The worldwide labor market for people who are bilingual in English and Chinese will grow exponentially with the rise in Chinese tourists. Hoteliers in the United States will find themselves recruiting from abroad to find the people with the requisite language skills. The large hotel chains with international properties will be in the best position to move employees around the globe to acquire the multilingual talent they will need. The real challenge will be the differences in social skill sets between the Chinese and other world cultures.

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