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Emerging economies currently lead the growing demand for international tourism. As the number of people with access to greater wealth continues to rise, these countries will gradually expand their market share until 2030.

This article focuses on tourism growth lead by BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China. It is essential for you to know the tourism characteristics, tastes and preferences of these countries so that you can tailor your products and services to match.

This article will address:

Key data from the emerging economic group: BRIC

(sources: European Travel Commission and UN World Tourism Organisation)

  • Brazil – in 2016, Brazilian residents took 8.2 million trips worldwide, of which 2.9 million trips were to Europe. International tourism expenditure was €13.1 billion in 2016, ranking Brazil 23rd in the world for tourist spending
  • Russia – Russian residents made 18.9 million trips globally in 2016, including 13.9 million trips to Europe. Russia occupies the 11th global position in terms of international tourism expenditure and spent €21.6 billion in 2016
  • India – Indian residents took 16.4 million trips in 2016, out of which 2.3 million were to Europe. In 2016, international tourism expenditure was €14.8 billion, ranking India 20th in the world for tourist spending
  • China – Chinese tourists made 84.9 million trips in 2016, of which 10.5 million were journeys to Europe. In 2016, China achieved the highest international tourism expenditure in the world, spending €236 billion

Characteristics, behaviour and tastes


Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and the 6th largest globally. The country’s outbound tourism market and tourist spending has grown significantly in a short space of time. In 2015, Brazilians made 2.9 million trips to Europe, making up 35% of all outbound trips taken by Brazilian residents.

The main European destinations for Brazilians are:

  • France, Spain and Portugal – each receiving 5% of total Brazilian long-haul travellers
  • Italy and the United Kingdom – both at 4%
  • Germany – at 3%

Fastest growth is reported by Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy.

Watch the tutorial on attracting South American tourists to discover the main characteristics of Latin America’s major markets.

Characteristics of Brazilian tourists

Although independent travel has increased, Brazilian tourists usually make reservations through traditional travel agencies and opt for package deals. Online sales have increased dramatically but personal attention is given major consideration.

Television and social media are some of the main sources of information.

Brazilian long-haul outbound travel tends to be concentrated in the Brazilian winter months – i.e. June to August – and the Christmas/New Year period for shopping purposes. There is a more even pattern to European destinations with significant numbers of Brazilian students.

Brazilians from wealthier backgrounds traditionally travel the most, but it is fast becoming more affordable. Travelling alone is common.

The greatest growth in Brazilian outbound travel is for leisure purposes. Business trips account for 30% of all departures. There is a large and growing Brazilian population in Europe which constitutes an important generator of Brazilian travel to Europe.

Brazilians travel for:

  • art, traditions and culture
  • heritage
  • nature
  • adventure sports

They generally do not travel for sun and beach holidays, but instead seek experiential factors such as learning about other cultures. They often appreciate cities, while cruising is also becoming popular. They look for quality, differentiated and personalised travel.

The most popular Brazilian travel destinations are:

  • globally – the United States, Argentina and Uruguay
  • Europe – France, Portugal and Italy

Brazilians are keen on hotel accommodation.


Russia is the fastest-growing tourism market in Europe, thanks to the country’s economic growth and increased leisure time amongst the middle classes. Outbound Russian tourism is expected to grow by 9% per year until 2020.

Characteristics of Russian tourists

Russians traditionally buy their holidays and take recommendations from travel agencies and tour operators, although use of the internet is growing.

Russians travelling abroad often have high purchasing power and look for customised options, as well as cultural and health holidays. Combinations of beach and city breaks with opportunities for shopping are popular.

This market can be price-dependent, and package deals are most popular for beach holidays.

They travel mostly in the summer and at Christmas, for an average of 10 days.

Russians travel for:

  • sun and beach
  • cultural attractions
  • history
  • shopping
  • gastronomy
  • sightseeing

The most popular Russian travel destinations are:

  • globally – the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Turkey
  • Europe – Finland, Estonia and Italy

Hotel accommodation is most in-demand with Russian travellers.


In 2016, Indian tourists made 2.3 million trips to Europe, equivalent to 14% of outbound travel. India has been earmarked as an important market for future tourism in Europe, with its growth potential estimated at 5.7 % on average per year until 2020.

Characteristics of Indian tourists

The majority of Indian travellers organise their holidays as package deals through travel agencies and tour operators, while the rest book them independently.

Indians usually arrange their trips 3 to 6 weeks before travelling.

Indians often take recommendations from family and friends, but also seek the advice of travel agents and, most recently, the internet. They mostly go on leisure tourism, although meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) travel has increased.

Indians tend to travel with family or to be experienced travellers. They seek a safe, friendly atmosphere and authentic experiences, and prefer to communicate in English.

Indians usually travel between May and July, and October and December, and stay between 10 and 21 days. They tend to visit different destinations within that time.

Indians travel for:

  • good hotels and service
  • well-known landmarks
  • nature
  • shopping

The most popular Indian travel destinations are:

  • globally – Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates
  • Europe – the UK, Switzerland and Germany

Indians generally seek 3-to-4 star hotel accommodation, especially when travelling on tours.


China overtook the USA in 2012 as the world’s largest outbound travel market both in terms of generated arrivals and total travel expenditure. This was thanks to a large population, rising disposable incomes, rapid urbanisation and relaxation of restrictions on foreign travel.

In 2016, Europe received 10.4 million arrivals from China, representing 12% of the country’s total international travel. Of these arrivals, roughly 80% were to a destination in the EU.

Destinations in Western Europe account for over half of all arrivals from China to Europe. Destinations in Eastern and Central Europe also appeal to many Chinese tourists (receiving around 20% of all arrivals).

The average spend per trip (based on all trips taken worldwide by Chinese travellers) was €1,000 – a value which reflects their preference for short-haul travel and all-inclusive tours. However, their spending per trip can be considerably higher for long-haul travel (for example to Europe) and for high-value travel segments.

Characteristics of Chinese tourists

The Chinese tend to organise their trips through travel agencies. They source destination information from the internet, travel agencies, and family and friends.

The Chinese market can be cost-dependent. Travellers to Europe are usually middle-to-high class with high purchasing power.

The Chinese often prefer group trips, although more affluent tourists will travel independently. They visit places with rich historical and cultural heritage, seeking an experiential component and local culture.

They will usually travel to Europe between May and September.

Chinese travellers to Europe tend to be older than the average. The 35 to 60-year-old age band has the highest proportion of travellers.

Chinese tourists visiting Europe spend between €1500 and €3000 on average per trip. They typically allocate 1/3 of their travel budget to shopping – a much higher share than any other market.

The majority of Chinese tourists are travelling overseas for the first time, but this proportion is declining.

Package trips are especially appealing to new travellers, as they provide:

  • a solution for cultural barriers (e.g. a guide who speaks their language)
  • a time-effective solution to capture the best of Europe (pre-defined itinerary)
  • the company of fellow tourists

The Chinese travel for:

  • history and culture
  • excursions
  • shopping

The most popular Chinese travel destinations are:

  • globally – Hong Kong, Macao and South Korea
  • Europe – France, Germany and Switzerland

3 to 4 star hotel accommodation is most in-demand with Chinese travellers.

Emerging economies: future trends

The EU maintained its position as the world's most-visited tourism destination in 2016, recording 499 million international arrivals (40% of the world total). This figure is expected to reach 557 million arrivals by 2030.

UNWTO's study on international tourism trends in EU countries predicts that a large proportion of tourists visiting the EU until 2030 will originate from emerging economy source markets in:

  • Asia
  • the Americas
  • Africa
  • the Middle East

An important contribution to world travel growth is expected to come from the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, the EU receives 26 million arrivals from this region. By 2030, this is expected to rise to 34 million arrivals.

The Americas will remain the third-largest outbound region. The number of tourists from here is predicted to increase by 2.2% year-on-year, with 37 million visiting EU countries.

The number of tourists from Africa is expected to grow by 5.5% year-on-year, with 9 million arrivals from Africa expected in the EU by 2030. The EU currently receives 6 million arrivals from the region – despite this being a low base figure, Africa is the fastest-growing outbound region in relative terms.

Approximately 4 million tourists from the Middle East currently visit the EU per year. By 2030, this is expected to increase to 5 million.