China is the fourth largest country in terms of land, and tops the list as the most populated country in the world, with a staggering 1.357 billion population. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it exports $168 billion worth of tourism globally.

With 120 million outbound travellers in 2016 alone, China has retained its position as the world’s largest outbound tourism market for the past four years, according to data released ahead of ATM, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 24 – 27 April 2017.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China is the second largest global economy, worth $11.3 trillion, and its outbound tourism market was valued at $168 billion globally in 2016, with 59.3 million Chinese nationals travelling abroad in the first half of 2016 and 62 million in the second half, according to a report by Thomson Reuters, an increase of around 4% year-on-year.

Tourism industry in the Middle East is making relentless efforts to cash on this mega-market, and travel incentives, including visas on arrival for Chinese nationals visiting Qatar and the UAE, have been introduced in recent months. The private sector is also employing more Cantonese and Mandarin speaking staff to help ease the language barrier and more Chinese businesses are operating their Middle East and Africa operations from the UAE.

However, Chinese travel preferences are still significantly inclined towards holidays within Asia, with countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore occupying the top positions in the list. Following Asia is USA, Australia and Canada as destinations most travelled to by Chinese tourists last year.

Herein lies an ace opportunity for neighbouring countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, to build their respective tourism industries and benefit from being in close proximity to the world’s most populated country.