Earlier this week, China Travel Outbound and Capela China brought together 50 senior British travel executives who are key drivers of the inbound travel market from China, for the Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Forum. With the pandemic putting a temporary stop to much of the mainstream inbound tourism market, the student market has shot into sharp focus.
China is the single largest country of origin for international students worldwide, with more than 600,000 Chinese students studying overseas in 2018. In the 2019/20 academic year, nearly 142,000 Chinese students enrolled at UK universities, a rise of 56% over the past five years. Chinese students have four times the disposable income of British students, and prioritise their spend over travel, leisure, entertainment and fashion, all of which provide an important boost to the UK economy.
Speaking at the Chinese Tourism Leaders’ Forum, Helen Bailey, Head of China Travel Outbound’s new Research Division said, “Chinese students have more than £1.7 billion a year of disposable income to spend whilst stuyding in the UK and are looking for engaging, welcoming experiences to enjoy alongsides their university studies.”
Helen’s findings looked at why students chose to study in the UK and why they are so important to tourism destinations and attractions in the UK. She continued, “Chinese univeristy students want to immerse themselves in the UK and all that it has to offer. They want to experience places as a local and feel what it is like to really live in the UK.”
Also speaking at the Forum was Matt Durnin, Global Head of Insights & Consultancy at the British Council, who talked about Chinese student mobility pre- and post-pandemic, and considered the global impact on university admissions. He explained that it is still too early to predict the exact number of Chinese applications to UK universities this autumn. “UCAS indications for the 2021 cycle are looking very positive with a 30% uplift in Chinese appliations compared to the previous year. However, many students are applying to multiple destinations as a back up so the reality is unlikely to be as high.”
Helena Beard, Managing Director of China Travel Outbound, said, “It has been incredibly rewarding to bring together such a dedicated group fo tourism specialists to discuss this important subject. The UK and European tourism industry needs to take heed of the growing numbers of Chinese international students to the UK and learn how best to tap into this affluent market and maximise on its vast potential.”