The China Outbound Travel Education Series – part 9: Where do they go?

Statistics on China are, in a word, confusing. The arrival figures as registered by the receiving countries and the departure figures as registered by the customs in China do not match at all. The main reason for this is the fact that Chinese customs only register the first destination upon leaving China. As so many travellers leave China at the border with Hong Kong, it is registered as the first destination, regardless of where the actual destination may be.

For example, in 2004 the Chinese customs registered 420,000 departures for Singapore, while the Singapore statistics show 880,000 arrivals from China .
Top 10 Destinations
Among the top 10 destinations, the only non-Asian countries are USA and Australia. USA has not signed an ADS agreement with China on tourism. Australia was the first western country to sign the ADS agreement with China and has done extensive promotion in China. Australia is not shown in 2004, since most flights to Australia go through Hong Kong, which is then registered as the destination,

2007 Chinese departures to world regions according to Chinese customs
Destination     Arrivals
Asia    36.3 million
Europe    2 million
Americas    1 million
Oceania    0.5 million
Africa    0.3 million

Europe is not in the list of top ten destinations though it would, if counted as one destination in the statistics. The European Union member countries do not keep uniform statistics on Chinese arrivals. The passports of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong all have the name China on them, which leads to confusion at the destination. Lack of unified computer data from all EU countries makes the statistician’s job very difficult.

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