Tropical Geography ›› 2020, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (1): 128-136.doi: 10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003170

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Temporal and Spatial Structure of Foreign Tourist Markets in China’s Inbound Tourism: A Reanalysis Based on Data from Inbound Leisure Tourists

Liu Qianqian1, Yao Zhanqi2(), Zhou Gongmei1   

  1. 1. Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 102488, China
    2. National Academy of Economic Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing 100028, China
  • Received:2019-05-15 Revised:2019-08-15 Online:2020-01-10 Published:2020-02-24
  • Contact: Yao Zhanqi


This study reexamines the role of tourism marketing in the case of travelers with varied purposes and hypothesizes that only tourists interested in leisure and sightseeing are affected by tourism marketing. Furthermore, in this study, we provide effective guidance to implement tourism marketing through a scientific analysis of the number of inbound leisure travelers. This paper presents an analysis of the spatial and temporal characteristics of the foreign tourist market in China using the foreign leisure tourist data for 2001-2006. This analysis was conducted from the perspective of sources of tourists, with consideration paid to geographic concentration, market convergence, and market competition. We found that in recent years, the foreign tourism market in China has become more dispersed and market diversity has improved. However, market concentration is still comparatively high. Nearly 60% of foreign tourists come from Asia, and Chinese tourism relies mainly on core markets such as South Korea, Russia, the United States, and Malaysia. Consequently, market diversity is a persistent challenge, and the remote intercontinental market has made little contribution to the growth of China's inbound tourism. Among the core markets, South Korea has a competitive edge and therefore outperforms in the foreign tourism market. Meanwhile, Mongolia has the most development potential. Russia, the United States, Malaysia, Japan, and Thailand have high market shares; however, their market growth rate competitive potential in the Chinese foreign tourism market is relatively weak. Other countries’ China-bound tourism markets are relatively uncompetitive and need further development. When the results of leisure tourism data were compared with overall tourism data, the findings revealed that previous research that was based on overall inbound tourism data was biased. The market shares of Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and India have been overvalued, while the market shares of Thailand and Indonesia have been underestimated. Market contributions from Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Canada have been overvalued, while market contributions from Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and the United States have been underestimated. Moreover, the competitive positions of Mongolia, the Philippines, and India in the tourism market have been overestimated, while the competitive position of Thailand in this market has been underestimated. The aforementioned conclusions have two implications for the marketing and management of the foreign tourist market in China. First, the market must be further developed and diversified. Second, differentiated marketing strategies that are specific to local conditions should be deployed. Finally, we propose two initiatives. First, researchers should seek to rationally apply the principle of scientific truth-seeking to tourism data, and further, they should study the structure of the tourism market obtained from pure tourism data rather than generalized travel data. Second, government departments should provide more detailed tourism statistics for the purpose of developing standard service practice, such as providing monthly data on inbound tourists that are categorized by nationality and purpose. This will help scholars to conduct a more specific classification study of travelers for different travel purposes.

Key words: inbound tourism, foreign source market, leisure tourists, temporal-spatial structure

CLC Number: 

  • F592.7