More and more Chinese tourists are visiting the US and other foreign destinations and hotels in China are also expanding their chains in these places. In 2015, more than 2.5 million Chinese came to the US, and that figure rose significantly in 2016, which was designated “2016 China-US Tourism Year”.
One hotel group aiming to cash in on this rising trend of Chinese tourists visiting abroad like never before is Shanghai-based Green Tree Hospitality Group, which has five hotels in Arizona and California in the US. Kevin Brooks, a co-managing director, said the company operates more than 2,000 hotels in China that range from budget or limited-service options to five-star designations. He said that a Green Tree budget or limited-service hotel in China is similar to a Holiday Inn Express in the US. To quote Chris Petroff, co-managing director, “About 18 months ago, the company decided to expand in the US; and last year, we converted five hotels to our brand. In 2017, we have embarked on franchising.” Petroff said that the company is hoping that existing franchise operators in China will aim for US location to spread the brand name.
Driven by an increasingly growing middle class, Chinese outbound tourists are expected to reach 150 million in 2020 from 122 million in 2016, with an estimated average annual growth rate of 5.09 percent, according to the China National Tourism Administration. Another growing segment of Chinese overseas travelers are parents sending their children to study in the US. Alex Xu, the founder and chairman of Green Tree, envisions the company as a global brand, “We are also exploring other countries in Asia and Europe for expansion.” In addition to traditional inns, online marketplaces like Airbnb, which enables homeowners, renters and others to offer accommodation to travelers, are also expected to benefit from rising Chinese outbound tourism.