Chinese tourists travel again, choosing domestic and foreign travel

Chinese tourists are eager to travel again.

But this time around, the usual suspects – such as Venice, Paris and Madrid – were not their first choice.

China’s travel-hungry citizens are changing a lot as the country gains momentum in reopening after three years of Covid-19 restrictions, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, an independent Germany-based consultancy.

“The number of Chinese tourists we will welcome this year and in the coming years is as It’s been very different.”

In China and elsewhere, as elsewhere, years of pandemic-induced lockdowns have sparked a shift away from major tourist attractions to “more nature-oriented, more outdoors-oriented tourism,” Alter said. He highlighted the emergence of trends such as camping and glamping, as well as family-focused travel.

Perhaps more importantly, many Chinese holidaymakers are still exploring their own country’s treasure trove of travel opportunities, he said.

In the past, if you were important in China, you had to travel abroad.

wolfgang george alt

Founder and CEO of China Outbound Tourism Research Institute

“Throughout the three years of the country’s lockdown, everyone has had to travel domestically – including the rich – and that has boosted domestic tourism,” Alter said.

This could mark a major change in the international travel market, of which Chinese tourists are huge contributors.

“It used to be that if you were important in China, you had to travel abroad. If you traveled domestically, you were either too poor or too dumb to travel abroad,” Alter added.

“Things have changed now,” he said.

In addition, “the quality and variety of domestic tourism products has increased. So for us, we have to compete not only with other international destinations, but also with the domestic market,” said Alter, who is still based in Hamburg Director of the Meaningful Tourism Center, a sustainable tourism consultancy.

gradual resumption of travel

Chinese tourists near 170 million According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the number of outbound tourists in 2019.

In the first half of that year alone, their outbound tourism spending exceeded $127.5 billion, a study Found it from Ctrip, a Chinese travel booking site.

Chinese outbound travel is expected to recover to about two-thirds of its 2019 high this year, with about 110 million outbound trips from China, according to COTRI.

However, AccorHotels estimates that about three-quarters of Chinese tourists will stay in China.

“We expect 70% to 80% of passengers to remain in China. Flight capacity is not at 2019 levels,” Karelle Lamouche, Accor’s global chief commercial officer, told CNBC Travel.

Chinese tourists choose Southeast Asia over East Asia

Since the country reopened its borders in early January, a lack of flight capacity has left many would-be travelers stuck at home. International flights from China recovered just 9% of 2019 levels in the week from Feb. 6 to Feb. 12, with 63% of those flights operated by Air China, according to Fliggy, a travel booking site owned by Alibaba. Company operations.

At the same time, many Chinese citizens have been caught up in passport extensions and delays in visa applications, as well as some short-term travel bans from countries such as Japan and South Korea.

“Unless we have passports, unless we have visas,” said Ralph Ostendorf, marketing management director of the travel site, we cannot prepare for China visit berlin.

China’s outbound travel is expected to recover to around two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels by 2023.

Leo Patritz | Electronics+ | Getty Images

Because of these shortcomings, countries that can meet the changing needs of Chinese tourists have emerged as clear winners. Thailand, for example, provides visa-on-arrival to Chinese tourists who are fully vaccinated and have travel insurance.

“Thailand has become a top destination for Chinese customers,” said Simon Shih, Fliggy’s chief strategy officer and head of corporate development, noting that Thailand received 180,000 Chinese tourists from January to mid-February.

The country’s Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said last month that he expects 1500 dollars Chinese tourists visiting the country this year – accounting for about half of all inbound tourists.

Group tours and custom tours

Still, other travelers’ preferences may be stickier. Before the pandemic, the majority (55%) of Chinese tourists chose to book their overseas trips through travel agencies, although the acceptance of FITs has increased.

This trend is unlikely to disappear Soon, Shi says — even if the type of service they’re looking for changes slightly.

When they choose to go abroad, I think group tours will still be their first choice.

Simon Stone

Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Corporate Development, Fliggy

“Even today, most Chinese people don’t have passports,” he said. As the travel market develops, he expects “group tours will remain their first choice,” Shi said.

However, he noted that many travel agencies have closed or reduced capacity due to the pandemic, creating opportunities for new entrants to offer customized services.

Younger Chinese tourists, for example, may prefer to visit local cafes they see on social media rather than major attractions, he added.

Arlt agrees that niche products and special-interest tours, including those that distinguish between first-time and repeat customers, could be ways for businesses to attract “new” Chinese tourists.

“Understand what you have to offer, what part of the Chinese market is appropriate, and offer it,” Arlt said.

“Don’t be afraid of China’s niche market,” he added. “There are millions of people in China’s niche market.”

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