Shopping is (very) big business. Just ask the Hong Kong tourist authority. According to a recent report published by Euromonitor International, Hong Kong is the world’s number one destination for shopping, with an estimated $25,000 million being spent there in 2014. And the destination is set to retain its number one spot for the next five years, by which time an estimated $30,000 million will go through the tills there. OK, so it helps to have China on your door step – whose population is not only continuing to grow rapidly, but will see an increasing proportion of it begin to travel abroad.
The US comes a close global second with $22,000 million being spent there in 2014. (All those pre-Christmas shopping trips to New York clearly add up). China itself comes in third followed by France, Spain and Thailand. The UK comes in at a very credible seventh place, with foreign tourists spending approximately $8,000 million in our shops.
Tourism authorities around the world have woken up to the fact that shopping is a major driver for tourism and a number of them are now creating dedicated strategies aimed at encouraging shopper tourists to visit their countries. These strategies range from creating shopping festivals or ‘national sales’ to organised tours to malls or factory outlets. Visitors to Dubai will know how successful these can be.
‘Back packers’ is the popular term given to young people travelling around the world on a shoestring with all their worldly goods stuffed in an over-sized rucksack. We wonder what term will emerge that best describes these shopper tourists? Shopoholics, perhaps?