HOW TO WIN WITH CHINESE TOURISTS: AN ESSENTIAL GUIDE FOR THE TRAVEL AND TOURISM INDUSTRY
If you’ve ever thought about attracting Chinese tourists to your location, shop or brand, this is the book for you. Find out who China’s outbound tourists are, where they’re going, what they’re buying and why.
China lifted its travel restrictions on January 8, 2023, after three years of closure due to the Covid pandemic. Despite widespread expectations of a travel boom, it failed to materialize. Now, a year on, the anticipated surge in travel has yet to occur, leaving the world in anticipation.
Would you like to attract more of these Chinese travellers to your location, shop or brand? Then this is the book for you. Find out who China’s outbound tourists are, where they’re travelling, what they’re purchasing and why.
Here’s an excerpt to give you a taste:
The first edition of this mini book was written in 2019. Chinese tourism domestically and to foreign destinations had been booming since around 2014 and international travel was an aspiration among those in China’s middle class as well as among intrepid young solo travellers. This was tempered only by a trade war that started between the US and China in January 2018.
Here’s a sample of headlines from 2018 and 2019:
“Chinese Tourists Are Taking Over the Earth, One Selfie at a Time” Bloomberg, February 12th, 2018
“Why Chinese Tourists Deserve Your Attention” Forbes, September 20th, 2018
“How Chinese Tourists Are Changing the Travel Landscape” Condé Nast Traveler, November 2nd, 2018.
“How Chinese travellers are revolutionising travel” World Travel & Tourism Council, March 20th, 2019.
“Chinese Tourists’ U.S. Spending Has Plunged. The Trade War May Be to Blame.” New York Times, June 12th , 2019.
“Chinese tourists spent $250 billion in 2017” The World Economic Forum, June 17th, 2019.
New phenomena had developed like tourists from China flocking to luxury outlets just outside of London set up to resemble a traditional town and groups of Chinese tourists roaming around unsuspecting, quiet villages in the UK snapping photos. In Australia, and other countries, Chinese tourists made trips to buy certain products in bulk that they then sold when they returned home to China.
Mostly due to the trade war, things had started to moderate in 2018 and 2019. Then, about a month after the first edition of this book was published in November 2019, reports started to come out of Wuhan, China of a mystery illness that was spreading from a wet market in the city. And we all know what happened after that. The world turned upside down, especially for travel and tourism.
Suddenly, a fun leisurely activity became something that could spread illness or strand people outside their home country as travel bans, flight restrictions and massive quarantine measures took hold in country after country to deal with a devastating, highly contagious novel coronavirus that no one had any immunity to. We’re now on the other side of it in some ways, thanks to rapidly rolled out vaccines, significantly adjusted habits and a lot of lessons learned.
However, Covid is still with us and has become endemic. The trade war continues, there’s a war in Europe and there’s renewed conflict in the Middle East. Travel habits and preferences have changed over the last few years. This includes China. So here we are with an updated version of this mini book to reflect some of the changes that have occurred.
Although Chinese tourism has bounced back to a degree within the country, people are still favouring travel closer to home. Internationally, tourism is down, with only a few very popular, sunny destinations, like Spain, getting their tourist numbers back to pre-pandemic levels in recent months. Many places have also seen a change in their tourism demographics due to Covid, a cost of living crisis in Europe and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Now let’s dive in and take a closer look at the new world of Chinese tourism.
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Make sure to create two different strategies, one for individual travellers and one for group travellers as they both require different approaches. Using a variety of digital channels and KOLs are also effective strategies, as both can help you connect with potential travellers.
Chinese consumers’ travelling decisions are mostly decided by what content they see on platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, RED, Mafengwo, and Douyin. Chinese travellers usually use online platforms to book their trips and find travel information with sites such as, Ctrip, Fliggy, Qunar and Tuniu.
Most Chinese tourists travel for enjoyment, sightseeing, and leisure purposes. When looking for places to travel to, Chinese tourists look for scenic and unique tourist attractions, attractive and unique local cuisine, availability of convenient mobile payment options like Alipay and WeChat Pay, availability of Chinese speaking staff and Chinese signage, a good reputation with online reviews and ratings by other Chinese tourists, etc.
In 2023, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad saw a significant increase, yet it hasn’t reached the high volume experienced prior to COVID. Back in 2019, there were an impressive 155 million trips made by Chinese tourists. According to official statistics from the first half of 2023, there were 40 million trips recorded, and although the total for the entire year will exceed this, it is expected to remain below pre-pandemic levels.