News / Asia

    As China Tourists Tighten Belt, Retailers Face Unhappy New Year

    A store worker adjusts Australian products on display for sale in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 27, 2016.
    A store worker adjusts Australian products on display for sale in Sydney, Australia, Jan. 27, 2016.
    Reuters

    Watching a lone browser in his Sydney Chinatown shop, Bing Chen is worried business is being squeezed this Lunar New Year by what's ailing the world economy at large - the weakest Chinese economy in 25 years.

    In years gone by, Chen would stay open until the wee hours, selling kangaroo skins and Australian wool to crowds of Chinese tourists. But as the Year of the Monkey begins, stores like

    Chen's are seeing a drop in trade with newly budget-conscious Chinese either staying home or spending less.

    "Our customers have halved," said Chen, standing by neatly stacked shelves at his Sydney store. "We had to work till 2am and there were still customers buying things but not any more."

    While record numbers of Chinese are traveling outside the mainland - 109 million last year, according to researcher GfK - Chen's fears echo data showing growth in tourist spending is dropping off quickly.

    The China National Tourism Administration in December forecast 2015 outbound tourist spending at $194 billion, according to state media. That equates to per tourist spending growth of just 1.5 percent, compared with a 16.5 percent rise the previous year.

    China's slowing growth is also showing up in weaker tourism spending much closer to home than Sydney.

    In Hong Kong, visits from the mainland were down 15.5 percent in December, compared to the year earlier, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

    Streets in Sheung Wan district, lined with stores selling dried seafood and various tonics, are quiet rather than bustling. Shop owner Lin Ying Jui says trade for his abalone, edible birds nests and natural medicines is the worst in decades.

    "I have been here for around 20 to 30 years, this year's business performance is the worst," said Lin Ying Jui.

    Now picky, not spendthrift

    Fueling growth in the overall number of Chinese tourists is a new breed of younger, independent travelers from the mainland. Countries like Australia are investing in targeting that market, and more than 100,000 Chinese nationals applied for visas to visit Australia in January alone, a record for a single month.

    But numbers of large, elderly tour groups are dwindling in Sydney's Chinatown. How much they and others will spend over the Lunar New year remains to be seen, and traders are bracing for customers being picky where they once were spendthrift.

    "Price is extremely important," said Chenchao Zhuang, chief executive of Chinese travel platform Qunar Cayman Islands Ltd. "Consumers will have a wish-list of places, and wherever has the deepest discounts, that's where they'll go."

    Back in Sydney's Chinatown, shop owner Anna Liu said Chinese tourists - her target customers - "wouldn't even haggle" in the past as they bought handfuls of vitamins, honey and kangaroo and shark extract products.

    "They are more reluctant to spend their money now," Liu said. "They are more careful, they look up the prices online before they come to compare."     

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora