The Chinese are coming, hopefully
While Ireland is a less appealing prospect than other European countries, partially because we are not members of the Schengen group of countries that allow freedom of travel on one visa, there are still opportunities.
There were 83 million Chinese travellers last year, and even though the economy is slowing, China is on the brink of a long-term rise in tourism expenditures, similar to Japan three decades ago.
The number of Japanese tourists rose sharply between the mid-1980s through to the 1990s, from four million to 16 million, at a time of strong economic growth in Japan, and something similar is happening in China, at a much steeper rate, according to research by Australian bank ANZ.
“The proliferation of low-cost carriers and tourism origination services also suggest that the tipping point for outbound tourism from China could occur at much lower levels of income than what was seen in Japan three decades ago,” said ANZ economist Daniel Wilson.
Moderating economy growth will hit the tourism spend, but Wilson points out this is just a slowdown, not a collapse.
“As tourism is discretionary consumer spending, it should slow coincidentally with China’s aggregate income growth . . . but even though there will be a slowdown in the pace of growth, you are still going to see more tourists and you are still going to see an increased spending.”
Shopping tourism company Global Blue noted that 20 per cent of all duty-free shopping is by Chinese consumers, and China is also set to become an even bigger presence in the global luxury travel market.
“Now Chinese people account for 25 per cent of global luxury consumption,” Lu Xiao, a specialist in luxury brand management, told the annual International Luxury Travel Market Asia in Shanghai.
He said China has two million people whose personal assets exceed €1.5 million but almost 60 per cent of them have yet to spend their money on luxury services.