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New Chinese Travel Trend: Island Travel

Chinese travel resumes
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China was the country hit first by the coronavirus or COVID-19 and it is the first country that moves into the new normal.

While the United States and much of the world are still struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic, life in many parts of China has returned normal. Crowds are again filling restaurants, bars, tourist sites, movie theaters, and gyms. A growing number of passengers are returning to the skies.

China leads the number of domestic flights; down just 8% year-on-year, according to recent data. According to the China Tourism Research Institute, the Tomb-Sweeping holiday, a public holiday in China from 5-6 April 2020, all nationwide destinations (Chinese cities and tourist spots) welcomed a total of 43.3 million visits from Chinese tourists and generated the domestic travel-related revenue of USD 1.18 billion this year.

Statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism show that during the public holidays from 1 – 5 May 2020, all nationwide destinations welcomed a total of 115 million visits and generated the domestic travel-related revenue of USD 6.79 billion.

During the Dragon Boat holiday from 25 – 27 June 2020, all nationwide destinations attracted a total of 48.8 million visits and generated the domestic travel-related revenue of USD 1.75 billion.

The cross-province tourism in China has reopened in July.  According to the “Cross-province travel market recovery half-month report” by Trip.com published on 29 July, more than 4,000 travel agencies have released domestic travel products on the platform, and the number of tourists and orders has increased significantly. The highest number of tourists to popular destinations has grown by 273 percent month-on-month, and the highest number of tourists from popular departure destinations has grown by 1200 percent month-on-month.

According to the 2020 China Market Recovery study that surveyed about 200 Chinese outbound travel agencies and travel companies, 43 percent of those surveyed expect that outbound travel will recover within the next nine to twelve months. 33 percent think it might take six to nine months, whereas 20 percent believe it will take three to six months, and only four percent expect to see a recovery within the next three months.

Most recently Delta and United announced additional flights between the United States and China to meet increased customer demand and a rebound in travel.

Top Concerns of Chinese Travelers

While airlines increase the number of frequencies, Chinese tourists say that health and safety are their key concerns that are impacting their travel intentions in the “new normal”. Sanitary measures in force will also become key concerns especially at airports and inflight.

Most Popular Themes for Travel in 2020 - 2021

Island, outdoor, natural landscape, family and medical tours are expected to be the most popular themes in the coming year, according to the recent findings of the ITB China Travel Trends Report. 

Business + Leisure will be still one of the trends for business travel in the future. Over 60 percent of the surveyed travel companies expect business travellers to make personal or family trips to the specific destinations of their business travel next year.

Self-driving tours, Free Independent Travel (FIT) and customized tours are being driven by the new situation to avoid places with crowds and large  travel groups. "After the outbreak, travelers may prefer outbound products focusing on safety, health and wellbeing, while the demand for natural landscape and customized travel will also increase," said He Yong, President of HCG Travel Group.

“We would advise European tour operators to start work on preparing products to answer the needs of potential travelers and visitors in the aftermath of the outbreak. These products should focus on health, wellbeing, nature, and should be customisable. Examples of such products could be self-guided tours. Chinese tour operators should get in touch with potential partners in Europe to help prepare these products, especially taking into account the Chinese experience in restarting domestic travel after the pandemic,” said Mr. Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of European Travel Commission.

Photo by Miguel A. Padrinan

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