By Daniel Chigundu
UNWTO says China has continued to be the world’s largest contributor of outbound tourists having spent about US$258 billion in 2017.
In its Tourism Highlights 2018 edition report, UNWTO said China’s spending represents about one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in for last year.
“…China continues to lead global outbound travel, having spent US$ 258 billion on international tourism in 2017. This is almost one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017, which stood at US$ 1.3 trillion, some US$ 94 billion more than in 2016.
“Among the top markets and destinations in the world, in 2017 Spain rose to become the world’s second most-visited destination in terms of international arrivals, after France. Japan entered the top ten in tourism earnings in tenth place after six straight years of double-digit growth. The Russian Federation re-entered the top ten of world spenders at eighth place.
“Available data for early 2018 has since confirmed international tourism’s continued strong growth, with a year-on-year increase of 6% in arrivals between January and April,” said the report.
Most countries including Zimbabwe are looking for ways of effectively tapping into this huge Chinese potential which is expected to continue increasing.
In 2015 it is reported that about 120 million Chinese travelled abroad and according to the China National Tourism Organisation (CNTO), the Asian country will provide as much as 600 million outbound tourists by 2020 making a very lucrative market.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Prisca Mupfumira told the media a few weeks ago that the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority will be opening an office in Shanghai to help market the country to the Chinese market.
According to a report presented in the Zimbabwean Parliament in 2016, Zimbabwe is little known in China a development which has seen it failing to effectively benefit from the market despite Zimbabwe and China enjoying cordial relations dating back to the time of the liberation struggle.
Zimbabwe has some of the world renown tourist sites but is being let down by marketing and according to ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke, the authority has potential to effectively market tourism but is not adequately funded.
Out-going Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa promised to adequately finance tourism marketing initiatives during the 2017 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani but appears to have neglected his promise.
Tourism is touted to be one of the country’s low hanging fruits with quick results but there is need to first spruce the image which was tainted by negative media reports that are awash on various internet platforms.
Meanwhile, UNWTO has revealed that International tourist arrivals grew 7% in 2017 representing an uninterrupted eight years of growth, the highest increase since 2010, led by the regions of Europe and Africa which received increases in arrivals of 8 % and 9% respectively.
International tourism receipts also increased by 5% in 2017, in addition to the US$1.3 trillion in receipts that destinations earned, international tourism generated another US$240 billion from international passenger transport taken by non-residents.
This raised total tourism exports to US$1.6 trillion, or US$4 billion a day, which corresponds to 7% of the world’s exports.
UNWTO said these strong 2017 results were driven by sustained travel demand for destinations across all world regions, including a firm recovery by those that have suffered from security challenges in recent years. Strong outbound demand from virtually all source markets, including rebounds from major emerging economies Brazil and the Russian Federation, benefited both advanced and emerging destinations.