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UK makes the top 5 European destinations for the highest transaction value for Chinese travellers over Golden Week

By Eva Zhang, CEO of Alipay UK 

Shopping remains a top travel activity for Chinese tourists in the UK and mainland Europe, especially during Golden Week. Golden Week, a national holiday, marks a significant surge in travel and shopping for Chinese citizens. The week-long break in early October sees millions of Chinese tourists explore both domestic and international destinations, making it a prime period for businesses and tourism worldwide.

This year’s Golden Week saw the UK ranked 3rd amongst European destinations for Chinese shoppers in terms of transaction value, behind France and Italy as Chinese tourists increasingly turn to digital travel services via systems such as Alipay. European countries remained popular travel and shopping destinations over the period, with France, Italy, the UK, Spain and Switzerland holding the top 5 places respectively.

The average spending of outbound Chinese travellers during the first five days of China’s National Day holiday 2023 (from 29 September to 6 October) also surpassed 2019 levels, as the rebound of Chinese travel continues to gain momentum. Shopping continues to be one of the most beloved activities among Chinese tourists when they travel. During the period, the highest expenditure (measured via Alipay) was on purchasing goods, including skincare products and duty-free goods, surpassing spending on all other activities. Food and beverages, as well as accommodation, ranked as the second and third largest spending categories, respectively.

A recent survey on Chinese outbound tourism, conducted by Nanyang Technological University of Singapore in partnership with Alipay, found that Chinese travellers of all ages embrace digital technology in travel planning, and expect to be able to use their home payment methods abroad. Chinese tourists have a key preference for mobile payments, with an overwhelming 84% expecting to use mobile payments.

The survey showed that Chinese consumers prefer mobile payments for their transparent and favourable exchange rates (60%), discounts and other value-added services offered (60%), expense tracking facilitation (56%), and safety and convenience over cash (55%). Chinese travellers also prefer personalised services such as Chinese-language shopping guides (83%) and exclusive offers. Local merchants keen on luring Chinese tourists may need to gear up for Chinese mobile payment methods and consider offering other value-added services tailored for Chinese tourists.

The most popular destinations based on total spending via Alipay remained largely consistent with the previous major holidays this year. Geographically close Asian destinations, including Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Malaysia, and European countries, such as France and Italy, continued to dominate the list. However, there was a notable increase in Chinese tourist spending in less-explored destinations like Estonia and Qatar compared to the same period in 2019, indicating a shift in travel preferences.

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