First to travel for health will be the Chinese

Looking ahead to outbound and inbound tourism may seem inappropriate now. But when tourism returns, turning on medical tourism will not be instant. Countries and destinations need to plan ahead. Among the first to travel for medical and health tourism will be the Chinese.

China was the biggest market that countries were fighting over in 2019 and 2020, but expecting outbound Chinese tourism to be as it was then may be a major mistake.

For Chinese born in the 1960s and working for decades, retirement beckons with the 60th birthday. This generation is conscious that their bodies need care. Medical, spa and detox treatments are finding a growing market and will see much stronger growth in the next ten years, with 25% of the Chinese population 60 years and older at the end of the current decade.

At the other end of the age scale, internationally orientated parents of young children are looking at helping them become global students and travellers.

Chinese outbound tourism will start again before European outbound and will recover faster than any other source markets. It will dominate the international tourism market in the new decade.

Exactly what Chinese tourists will want is not really known but current customers are well-educated and experienced travellers, seeking quality and experiences. Price discounting is likely to be much less attractive.