Will the Year of the Pig celebrations boost the piggy banks of retailers across China and Asia this week? They are certainly banking on it.

With trade tensions and a slowing economy putting a brake on spending, Chinese tourists appear to be heading to budget-friendly destinations closer to home.

Bangkok and Bali are likely to be the big winners, while Sydney and San Francisco, which were popular in previous years, could be the big losers.

A giant red pig with lanterns above in Hong Kong to celebrate Chinese New Year. Photo: AFP

“Up to seven million people will be traveling abroad,” Ctrip, the massive online travel agency, told Xinhua, the official state-owned news agency.

“So far, they have booked trips to nearly 500 destinations in more than 90 countries and regions, with the most popular international destinations being Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore.”

Lanterns illuminate Macau for Chinese New Year celebrations. Photo: AFP

Hotels and travel agencies in the region are anticipating increased numbers compared to 2018. But the figures for vacations in the United States, Australia and New Zealand are likely to decline.

“We see the growth start to slow a little bit with a decline in spending, especially on shopping,” Hunter Williams, a partner at management consultancy Oliver Wyman, which is based in New York, told Reuters news agency.

A woman poses for a photo with a giant pig figurine in Beijing ahead of Chinese New Year. Photo: AFP

Last year, average spending by Chinese tourists on shopping during the holiday period was 5,800 yuan (US$855) compared to 8,000 yuan in 2016, Oliver Wyman reported.

But there are concerns that number could drop again as China’s economy cools and the trade war with the United States bites.

A panda cub plays with a toy pig in the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wenchuan, Sichuan province. Photo: AFP

Still, demand remains strong for luxury brands among high-end consumers in the world’s second-largest economy.

“The trend of last year continued in January because Chinese New Year is very close now,” Bernard Arnault, the chief executive at French fashion giant LVMH, told Bloomberg TV.

At least, one company appears to be bringing home the bacon in the Year of the Pig.


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Residents visit a pig-shaped lantern to mark Chinese New Year in Renhuai, Guizhou province. Photo: AFP