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Factors that Motivate Chinese Tourists to Travel to Canada Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 11th, 2019

A large part of international tourists in Canada comes from China. The loosening of travel restrictions and continued economic growth has led to a rapid increase in the figure of Chinese tourists travelling globally. Canada attracts many Chinese people because it is a developed nation.

In fact, most towns in Canada act as residents to the Chinese population since most immigrants from China prefer to settle in these areas. Canada’s stunning and large scenery appeal too many Chinese who intend to visit overseas countries. According to Zhen (2011), Chinese visitors to Canada increased from “138, 014 in 2006 to 159,000 in 2009” (345).

It is in this light that this study aims at finding out motivations that make Chinese tourists select Canada as their tourist destination. The research question is “ What are some factors that motivate Chinese tourists to travel to Canada?”

The study first discusses Chinese tourism as well as Chinese travel market to aid in understanding the case of outbound tourism in China. The study next explores Chinese characteristics and factors that motivate Chinese to travel to Canada. Lastly, the study gives some implications as well as a summary of the study.

Chinese Tourism

Many countries can benefit from Chinese tourist activities. Such countries need to understand characteristics of Chinese people, as well as their travel, needs so that they can generate revenue for their economies. While this is true, there is no much information about Chinese travelers because the Chinese travel market is a developing area.

For a long time, the Chinese lacked policies as well as income that allowed touring foreign countries. Also, travel for leisure is rather a new form of tourism activity among Chinese people. This form of travel which does not have any business orientation or family connection is barely 10 years old.

The number of Chinese who travel to foreign countries per year becomes predicted to reach 100 million by 2020 (Guo, Kim, & Timothy, 2007). This means that China will be among the leading sources of tourists in the world.

This estimation makes many countries as well as business to work harder so that they can appeal to this massive market. Thus, the question on what motivates their travel is relevant to these two groups. However, Chinese market is extremely new and so broad, which makes it difficult to respond to these questions.

Chinese Travel Market

Over the last 20 years, the Chinese people became granted permission to visit their friends and families in the foreign countries. Initially, the Chinese could only travel to Macau and Hong Kong, although, the Chinese government later allowed Chinese residents to visit other foreign counties at their cost.

This led to approval of outbound tourism in China. The first countries to receive approval became New Zealand and Australia in 1989. Later, more countries became approved and by 2008 over 100 countries had approved visas.

Since that time, Chinese tourism increased rapidly corresponding with the Growth Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism in China becomes governed by the national tourism board. This government branch encourages local tourism as it aims to create extra revenue from internal tourist activities. As a result, the records of those travelling in foreign countries have received little attention.

Destinations that succeed in attracting small portions of Chinese tourist will benefit much as the market is developing. While there is a global increase in tourism the Chinese outbound tourism forms a large part of market segment. According to Guo et al. (2007), the number of outbound tourist from China will increase to over 100 million.

Since this will account for about 7% of total tourist in the world, Chinese tourist forms a large potential market. Records outbound tourism in China is more than domestic tourism in the country ( Guo et al., 2007). Most Chinese travelers to other counties belong to middle class families. Other Chinese travelers to other countries are students who study abroad.

The Chinese education process allows students to study abroad. This makes most of these learners feel the urge tom travel abroad even after they complete their studies. Since restrictions on overseas travel are continuously becoming free and the Chinese economy is also growing, more Chinese citizen are likely to engage in outbound travel.

The cultural practices in China are different from those in Western countries. This means that the motivations and preferences of Chinese people can neither be ignored nor be assumed to resemble those found in other Asia regions, or Western parts of the world. Also, the relative significance of real and perceived benefits, by the tourists, influences their decisions on areas to travel (Kim, Guo, &Agrusa, 2005).

Thus, through examining the preferences and motivations of Chinese tourists we can have enhanced perceptions of benefits that they value and use them in formulating marketing decisions.

Although several factors contribute to the increase of the Chinese outbound tourists, the commonly accepted theory of pull and push factors shows that most factors are either internal or external (Dann, 1977). A study by Zhen (2011) shows that the most significant push factors that make Chinese to choose Canada as their area of travel are exploration, leisure, prestige and family ties (Crompton, 1979).

Similarly, the most significant pull factors that make Chinese visit Canada are distinct attraction, outdoor sports and high standards of living in Canada (Zhen, 2011).

According to Zhang and Lam (1999), Chinese travelers prefer to travel to oversee countries, particularly countries that are more developed than China, for prestige purposes. Chinese people also visit these countries with the aim of showing off to their friend and colleagues. Eventually the Chinese who travel to developed countries acquire prestigious statuses and feel superior when interacting with colleagues.

Canada accommodates many Chinese immigrants, which makes those Chinese travelers who want to strengthen friendship or family ties with these immigrants to choose Canada as their country of destination. The two countries have a strong link because many Canadian immigrants originate from China.

Information about the beauty of travel to Canada became spread to people in China though China immigrants who live in Canada. As a result, many Chinese feel obliged to visit Canada either immediately, or later.

Since 2009 when Canada received approved destination status (ADS) from China, the figure of Chinese travelers increased tremendously. According to the Canadian Tourist Commission (2010), overnight travel from China to Canada increased by more than 21.5%, in 2010.

Besides, Canada gives Chinese travelers many business opportunities in the areas of casinos and cuisines. For instance, Toronto has many multicultural activities. Travelers, from other countries, get a chance to taste foods from different cultures.

Most Chinese people also view Canada as a clean, secure and a friendly destination (Canadian Tourist Commission, 2006). These attributes attract many Chinese tourist especially those whose travel intention is only to unwind and seek pleasure.

According to a study by Ma (2009), most Chinese pursue leisure activities for relaxation purposes, which is the most significant push reason in this case. On the other hand, the most significant pull cause influencing Chinese people to choose Canada as their destination of travel is the high quality of Canadian life.

The Chinese perceive Canada as a rich country and industrialized nation. In other words, the life style of Canada is totally different from China’s lifestyle, and this appeals many Chinese travelers.

Another pull cause that attracts Chinese tourist to Canada is shopping. Most Chinese travelers acquire items from western countries since they think that luxuries commodities are more cheap and genuine, in Canada than in their own countries. Chinese people often take luxurious gifts to their friends and relatives during tours and thus, they prefer to travel to Canada where they can easily access such commodities.

Kim et al. (2005) carried out a study on value of destination attributes when selecting potential areas of travel. The study found out that most Chinese people first considered security during this course.

Another attribute that most Chinese travelers ranked first was beautiful scenarios. Other attributes included different cultural back grounds and well equipped facilities. The study also showed that well-built shopping avenues and level of industrialization did not largely influence tourist decisions.

Another study by Chow and Murphy (2008) became conducted, among Chinese travelers, to find out some activities that Chinese travelers preferred to do in the course of travel. This study also sought to find out whether the product and services offered by tourists’ agencies marched with activities that most Chinese travelers preferred.

The study found out that most Chinese traveler preferred activities to do with dinning and eating from outside. This demonstrates that tourist agencies could have underestimated the value of food among the Chinese people. According to Wang, Vela and Tyler (2008), Chinese tourist expects to get quality food similar to what they get from in their home restaurant.

Other preferred activities included sight viewing as well as heritage and culture. This shows a keen interest in the unique features that exist, in areas of destination and interest to learn. Besides, this shows that Chinese travelers have varied travel expectations depending on their travel purpose.

Features of Chinese Tourists

Chinese people usually consider time and price when making travel decision. Hence, they prefer tourist destination, which will allow them to visit multiple countries at the least price and time. Chinese usually spend lots of money on shopping during their tours.

For most Chinese travelers, shopping expenses account for the main part of the budget during travel. This could be related to culture of giving gift in China. It is common for Chinese people to bring gifts to their friends and family after they visit foreign countries.

This is because giving foreign gifts to people as well as wearing them becomes associated with a high status. The Chinese people also value their families and holidays may thus, not be opportunities to promote family bond.

Travel Motivations

Human conduct becomes influenced by several factors and thus, it is significant to study motivations behind Chinese travelers. If we are aware of the forces behind their decisions, then we can formulate picture and products about destinations, which are appealing to them.

Motivations of travel are dynamic processes of several psychological aspects which form imbalance in people, and thus creating a need to travel (Crompton & Mckay, 1997).

Li (2007) reveals that Chinese tourist select destinations that will allow them have new experiences as well as increase their knowledge base. Chinese travelers select destination areas that own a distinct history and culture from theirs since they expect to learn something new in the course of their travel.

According to Hofsted (1980), Chinese people are unique because they expect to learn during their leisure activities. Thus, they prefer to travel to areas that have a new environment so that they can increase their knowledge base on other regions.

Any destination that meets this criterion is, therefore, suitable as a tourist destination for Chinese tourist. Li (2007) also reveals that Chinese travelers became motivated to travel to develop interpersonal relationship. People from China believe in collectivism and not individualism.

Thus, they stress on the group but not entities. The Chinese people believe in Confucian philosophy, which stresses on the value of proper association among human being.

This philosophy also stresses on the value of living harmoniously with fellow human being. In other words, social orientations and interpersonal relationships form a large part of Chinese cultural values. As a result, most Chinese tourists travel in the company of family and friends.

According to Li (2007), motivational factors that influence travel decision among the Chinese differ notably amid demographic segment. Age acts as a basic determinant of the factors behind travel decisions while the educational level and income level are secondary determinant.

Persons, who have high income and high educational levels, value relaxation activities, during travel. This means that tourist marketers in Canada must divide the Chinese tourist according to their respective segments as it seems that travel reasons vary among different groups


As mentioned above, several factors motivate Chinese people while selecting tourist destination. These factors must get an understanding from economies as well as business to maximize revenue from these tourists. First, Chinese tourist decide, on places, to travel having the aspect of prestige in their mind. In other words, Chinese travelers associate tourism activities with luxury.

Luxury becomes clear among these tourists as they get accommodation in foster hotel. Equally, Chinese travelers value shopping branded products, during travel.

This becomes clear in the high shopping expenses together with their demand for unique Canadian commodities to display when they travel back home. Chinese readiness to buy products that are Canadian could be used to open some specialty shop near main areas of attractions.

Another main concern for Chinese tourist concerns the safety of the destination. This means that the Canadian government must fortify the security in the country to avoid negative criticism due to insecurity issues. It is thus crucial to find out whether other people perceive Canada as a safe destination ahead of launching Canada as a tourist destination of the Chinese people.

Besides, Chinese tourist seem to select destinations that will offer knowledge and learning to them. Chinese people are always keen to learn heritage and culture of other countries.

Therefore, marketing and product development department should concentrate on displaying and showcasing Canadian culture, as well as uniqueness in their heritage. In order to show case the uniqueness of the Canadian heritage, marketers can integrate the Aboriginal culture into their visualization. This will aid in showing the cultural heritage that is unique in Northern American.

Marketers can also put more emphasis on Canadian kitchen and food culture to appeal to many Chinese tourists. As mentioned earlier, Chinese people value food and thus, introducing the right foods in the Canadian restaurant can attract many Chinese tourists.

Another aspect, which can get consideration, is the fact that Chinese tourists prefer to visit multiple countries during their travel. Since most Chinese tourists acquire group travels that have a prearranged itinerary, Canada should negotiate with other western destination so that it can get incorporation from these itineraries.

Marketers must also find variations in segmentation, when considering the key factors affecting travel decisions. This is because some motivations such as the need for knowledge and relaxation among different demographic segments seem to differ. This means that Canadian tourist marketers must offer products and services that will appeal to every market segment.

Lastly, tourists’ marketers in Canada can lay more emphasis on beautiful scenarios, high standards of living as well as cosmopolitan cities to make Canada an appealing tourist destination to more Chinese people.

Moreover, marketers must realize that Chinese people expect quality services and understanding of their culture. Meeting and fulfilling these expectations necessitates a mishmash of insight into activities that relates to their culture as well as understanding common values and practices of Chinese people.

In conclusion, there are several factors that motivate Chinese tourists to choose Canada as their country of destination. Some of these factors include shopping opportunities, high standards of Canadian life, beautiful scenarios, distinctive attractions and the expensive city life. Other reasons why Chinese tourists prefer to visit Canada include prestige, exploration, bonding with friends and novelty.

Besides, the study highlights these factors affecting travel decisions in terms of the push and the pull theory. The most significant push factor in the case of Chinese travel to Canada is the need for relaxation. Conversely, there are many pull factors influencing Chinese people to choose Canada as their destination of travel. These factors include the high quality of Canadian life and shopping.

All these factors relate with the Chinese culture. Besides, these motivations have many inferences for the future marketing of North America. For instance, the Canadian government and tourism bodies can lay more emphasis on beautiful scenarios, high standards of living as well as cosmopolitan cities to make Canada an appealing tourist destination to more Chinese people.

Besides, both the government and tourism bodies in Canada should make efforts to fortify the association between Canadians who originate from China and mainland Chinese. Furthermore, these two units must realize that Chinese people expect quality services and understanding of their culture.

Meeting and fulfilling these expectations necessitates a mishmash of insight into activities that relates to their culture as well as understanding common values and practices of Chinese people. Therefore, tourist marketers in North America must prepare to give the basic need of Chinese travelers to Canada, as well as providing products and services that satisfy their social and psychological needs.


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