CHINA/INTERNATIONAL. Chinese overseas travel is set to grow strongly around the critical Chinese New Year period starting on 16 February and the following Golden Week holiday, according to latest figures from travel analyst ForwardKeys.

Daily international departures are running ahead +11% year-on-year, The company predicts future travel patterns by analysing 17 million daily flight bookings.

Current bookings show that Chinese travel will begin to peak from 10 February to 14 February, ahead of the Year of the Dog celebrations.

Asia Pacific is the top regional destination. It has a market share of 76%, with bookings ahead by +13%. Destinations in Southeast Asia will experience an additional uplift as traffic to South Korea has slowed due to the lingering effect of the diplomatic rift over THAAD, says ForwardKeys.

The Americas, Europe and Africa and the Middle East are also showing steady growth.Japan, Thailand and Taiwan hold their positions as the top three destinations. New Zealand tops the list of fastest-growing destinations – surging +30% on 2017, followed by Vietnam (+22.5%) and Hong Kong (+18.3%).The pattern for Chinese people heading home after the celebrations tracks last year’s movement – peaking on 21 February at the end of Golden Week.Two airports in Japan will see the greatest increase in returning numbers – New Chitose Airport in Sapporo by +40%, and Kansai International Airport in Osaka by +39%. They are followed by Phuket International Airport, Thailand +34%. Dubai International’s traffic is also ahead +34%.

Chicago tops the list of those airports benefiting from Chinese homeward-bound transfers.

“The Chinese are enjoying more foreign travel as their outlook becomes increasingly international,” said ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder Olivier Jager.

“It means that businesses have an excellent opportunity to provide services and goods to a growing Chinese clientele that is increasingly demanding and affluent. Purchases made en-route play a big part in Chinese activity when travelling, which is why our latest figures will be of particular interest to global and duty free retailers.”