Increasing Ease of Travel Spurs Rise in Chinese Tourists Exploring Overseas Destinations

by Alice

Chinese tourists are displaying a growing interest in exploring museums abroad, with popular destinations including the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the Erawan Museum in Bangkok, according to industry experts.

Nanjing-based online travel agency Tuniu has identified additional sought-after international museums among Chinese travelers, such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the British Museum, the Prado Museum in Madrid, Al Shindagha in Dubai, the National Museum of Luang Prabang in Laos, and the National Museums of Kenya.


Driven by increased flight options and favorable visa policies, Chinese tourists are venturing farther afield, embracing niche destinations like Serbia, Morocco, and Tunisia.


“Museum visits offer travelers an opportunity to delve into the history of a city. Chinese consumers are demonstrating a growing interest in museums as vital hubs of cultural heritage,” remarked Xiao Peng, a researcher with the big data research institute of Qunar, a Beijing-based online travel agency.


During the recent May Day holiday period from May 1 to May 5, Qunar reported record-high booking volumes for international flights and hotels. Notably, flight bookings from China to Saudi Arabia and Egypt surged more than threefold year-on-year, while bookings to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Qatar rose over 50 percent compared to the previous year.

Despite regional challenges, the tourism industry in the Middle East has shown robust growth, emerging as one of the fastest-growing regions globally, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Last year, the number of international tourists visiting the Middle East reached 86.3 million, marking a 22 percent increase compared to the pre-pandemic period in 2019.

Iran has actively courted Chinese tourists by implementing visa-free policies and offering Chinese-language services, including artifact introductions in museums. Hadi Mirzaei, director-general of the General Office of Museums in the Iranian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts, highlighted Iran’s efforts to enhance the visitor experience for Chinese tourists, including providing Chinese-language catalogs at museums.

Acknowledging China as a key tourism market, the Iranian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts plans to further facilitate Chinese tourism by offering training in Chinese language and cuisine to hotel staff and chefs. Moslem Shojaei, director-general for marketing and international tourism development at the ministry, emphasized the importance of catering to the needs of Chinese travelers, who spent nearly $1,000 on average during their visits to Iran from March 2023 to January 2024.



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