Visitor boom: Trends predict China will become the largest source of outbound tourism by 2030
THE BIG PICTURE
China is forecast to overtake the US and Germany to become the largest source of tourists to other countries by 2030, according to Euromonitor International's 'Megatrends Shaping the Future of Travel' report.
A megatrend is a trend with longevity, or one that represents a fundamental shift in behaviours.
For China, tourism has become a key pillar of the economy, and investments have been made to improve infrastructure and standards, in addition to the country's tourism-friendly policies and initiatives.
China will also be the largest inbound market for tourists by 2030.
Meanwhile, domestic tourism in China is big business, representing 4.7 billion tourist trips in 2018. Domestic tourism is forecast to grow to a further 6.7 billion trips by 2023.
Tourism Ireland hopes that the number of people from this potentially lucrative market holidaying here will increase, with direct flights between China and Dublin announced last summer.
Overall, the report finds that the tourist market in Asia is booming, with the region continuing to enjoy strong performances in both inbound and outbound travel, supported by fast-growing economies and an expanding middle class.
The vast majority of arrivals to the region - 80pc - also originate in Asia.
Technology is enabling tourism growth, with businesses, such as Irish company Hostelworld, developing user-friendly online booking platforms and convenient payment systems.
Closer to home, the European tourism industry remains "resilient".
Despite economic and political turmoil, the migrant crisis and terrorist attacks over the past years, the tourism industry in Europe continues to register strong growth.
While concerns have been raised around "over-tourism" in some areas, city tourism boards across Europe are responding by coming to grips with a future in which they will be looking to attract the "right" traveller.
The report also highlights concerns around the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. While the expenditure from UK tourists going abroad is expected to increase regardless of the final Brexit outcome, the report finds that as much as $11bn (€9.6bn) in outbound tourist expenditure hangs in the balance depending on what form Brexit takes.
In addition, ripple effects are likely to be felt in the tourism industry in other countries, including Ireland. Last year, Fáilte Ireland said it estimates that a worst-case scenario would cost the sector between €380m and €390m. In Spain, where UK travellers account for 21pc of inbound tourist revenues, a no-deal Brexit could reduce 2019 receipts by as much as $747m (€653m) compared to a free trade agreement. In turn, this would lead to a $66m (€58m) reduction in outbound expenditure from Spain.