Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 73 ›› Issue (12): 2468-2480.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201812014

• Tourism Geography • Previous Articles    

Evolutionary characteristics of China's outbound tourism flow in rank-size distribution from 2001 to 2015

JIANG Yiyi1(),WEN Xiaojin1(),LIU Yanxu2   

  1. 1. Institute of International Tourism Research, China Tourism Academy, Beijing 100005, China
    2. Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2017-12-08 Online:2018-12-14 Published:2018-12-14
  • Supported by:
    National Program for Support of Top-notch Young Professionals;The NationalSocial Science Fund of China, No.17AJY22


The size of China's outbound tourism has expanded rapidly since the mid-1990s, and has presented a remarkably imbalanced distribution between different destinations. This study built a database on China's outbound tourism and destination's inbound tourism between 2001 and 2015, and validated that China's outbound tourists flow is in compliance with the hypothesis of law similar to the rank-size distribution theory. The coupling rank-size relationship between Chinese inbound tourists and the total number of inbound tourists received by the destinations has been divided into 5 types. The results show that the relation of the rank-size distribution of China's outbound tourism is consistent with the law of power function, and gathering to the high-ordered destinations. From 2001 to 2015, both the absolute leading and absolute lagging types exceed 45% of the total number of destinations. The Asian-Pacific countries receiving Chinese tourists are generally in the leading type, with destinations in Europe, America and Middle East lagging behind. Destinations with more tourists are more likely in the absolute lagging type than in the leading type, while those with fewer tourists are more likely in the absolute leading type than in the lagging. This study provides a new perspective for the analysis of outbound travel flow, and could serve as theoretical references for decision-making on market policy formulation and internationalized tourism industry layout.

Key words: China's outbound tourism, destination's inbound tourism, rank-size, coupled types