LONDON — A surge in spending by Chinese tourists helped to drive a 31.9 percent increase in global tourism spending in July – its 12th consecutive month of growth — compared with the same month last year, according to Global Blue data analyzed by Barclays.
The rise in spending by Chinese tourists contributed to a 27.5 percent rise in tourism spending in Europe in July, with the region representing 84 percent of global tourism sales in Global Blue’s data. The bank noted that the strong rise in global tourist spending “more than offset a large decline [in spending] in Hong Kong/Macau as well as limited growth in mainland [China].” Global Blue does not track tourist spending in the U.S., Hong Kong or Dubai as those countries do not have the VAT refund systems that Global Blue operates.
Chinese tourism spending overall rose 73.6 percent in July, with spending by Chinese tourists up 71.2 percent in Europe, and up 83 percent in the rest of the world. Barclays said the latter figure was driven by middle-class Chinese shoppers spending in Asia, particularly in Japan. However, Barclays noted that the rest of the world figure was down from the “exceptional” rises of 122 percent in May and 103 percent in the year to date, reflective of the slowdown in tourism spending in South Korea over fears over a MERS outbreak in the country.
In contrast, spending by Russian tourists dipped again, falling 32.4 percent in July compared to the same month last year, after a fall of 17.9 in June. It represented the 19th consecutive month of falls in Russian tourist spending globally. The category most affected by July’s falls in spending were leather goods, with Russian tourists’ spending on the sector down 19.5 percent in July. Barclays said that while there has been “a recovery” in the ruble’s value, after the currency’s fall drove the dip in Russian tourist spending, “it is still at a significant discount to the euro and U.S. dollar from a year ago.”
Overall, Barclays said that watches and jewelry was the best performing category across destinations, up 42.1 percent year-on-year in July, fuelled by a 69.9 percent rise in Chinese tourist spending on the category. Leather goods gained 32.3 percent in July, while fashion and clothing notched up a 17.1 percent rise, with Barclays noting that the category suffers from “its higher exposure to Russian spending.”