What are the new trends on Chinese tourism market in 2020?

Chinese tourism market from 2012 to now

Outbound tourism from China has grown significantly over the past 15 years. China continued to hold its position as the world’s highest spender on international travel from 2016 to 2017, a position the country has held since 2012.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) predicts that China will be one of the 10 fastest-growing markets for leisure travel spending through to 2026.

Compared to previous years, currently, Chinese consumers tend to seek in-depth travel experiences which include local cultural and recreational activities and are spending less time shopping during outbound trips.

However, due to the current health crisis, the situation has changed and new trends that will dominate the behavior of Chinese tourists for the next months have appeared.


New trends on the Chinese tourism market

Thailand is the favorite destination of 2020

Recent findings by Chinese travel giant Trip.com have consistently ranked Thailand among the first outbound destinations that Chinese travelers want to travel post-covid19.

It represents 14% of Thailand’s gross domestic product. The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have been catastrophic as at least one million tourism workers are now estimated to be out of jobs.

When the borders open and the restrictions on international travel are lifted, China, with the utmost certainty, will once again play a dominant role in the tourism sector of the country.


Safety and familiar destinations

After Covid-19 safety and security will clearly be top priorities for Chinese as well as international travelers in the immediate future.

Without any change from their previous destinations, Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, and Pattaya have respectively ranked as Thailand’s top five destinations that Chinese travelers would want to travel to.

Furthermore, the perception of what makes a safe space will figure highly on travelers’ post-COVID priorities. Social distancing measures, no doubt, would have to be reflected in hotels’ physical spaces such as lounges, restaurants, and elevators.


How to reach Chinese tourists?

In addition to cultural monuments, local cuisine and visa procedures, Chinese tourists’s destination choice are based on :

  • the availability of online payments such as Wechat pay and Alipay
  • online reputations from other Chinese tourists
  • promotions during Chinese holidays
  • invest in staff who speak and write Chinese in order to have conversations on clarifications or questions without any misunderstanding given the different Chinese culture and language.

All of this is essential to attract Chinese tourists. What a company should focus on, to better promote its brand, are all these factors.

The importance of branding to attract Chinese tourists

To attract tourists, brands should focus on growing their brand visibility and brand awareness, especially in this period of crisis due to Covid-19.

As the importance and widespread use of social media in China, a strong presence on important platforms like Wechat, Weibo and Xiaohongshu is essential. These platforms are the best way to attract potential tourists by people’s sharing experiences, therefore a brand should open an account on Chinese social media to promote the brand’s value and products.

Independent travel rather than group tours

Usually, Chinese travelers moved in guided groups, but now they are becoming increasingly independent, especially the millennials. Semi-independent groups or private family and friends tours have also developed for reasons of freedom, convenience, and comfort.

Especially during a post-crisis phase, 83% of Chinese potential visitors would choose independent travel versus a group tour.

The use of booking channels growth to organize the trip

Most Chinese tourists use the web to organize their trip, this leads to ‘what are the preferred booking channels for Chinese travelers?  The top four are Ctrip, Mafengwo, Fliggy, and hotel websites.

While Ctrip is favored for booking hotels, Alibaba’s Fliggy is more likely to appeal to a young generation as a pre-trip discovery and booking tool in China.

Hotels should adapt to this by creating a good Chinese website and accounts on these platforms and facilitating payments through Wechat pay and Alipay.

Most important booking channels to attract tourists in China

On these platforms, you can publish travel guides, interact with consumers, and promote your brand.

Mafengwo: Travelers Forums that Chinese Netizens use all the time

MaFengWo (马蜂窝) is similar to TripAdvisor, it is considered one of the most important travel website by younger Chinese tourists. It is focused on content to help users with their travel plans.

Ctrip.com: China Biggest OTA

Since launching in 1999, Ctrip has experienced unstoppable growth, becoming the largest travel platform among Chinese travelers.

This app has achieved a leading position with regard to hotel reservations, travel tickets, tour packages and corporate travel management and other services.

Video sharing and live streaming impact on tourism

In China, the choice of destination and places to visit depends on 51% on films and TV series and 52% on videos on social media. Therefore video sharing and live streaming on Chinese platforms are very important to create brand awareness.

The online behavior acquired by many during the coronavirus lockdown will likely accelerate the digitalization through China’s travel population across all age groups.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has pushed the tourism industry to pause, but live streaming has brought more possibilities for tourism businesses and platforms.

During COVID-19 Fliggy launched  “the house travel plan” with nearly a thousand tourism businesses and KOL’s from more than 30 countries and regions. In fact, Douyin in China has gone “viral” during Covid-19, capturing 400 million daily users in China with its video and live streaming content.

The best video streaming platforms to attract tourists are Douyin and Youku.

KOLs collaboration to promote your Destination

The best way to use live streaming is a collaboration with KOLs (Key opinion leaders). They are one of the best ways used to promote in China as they reach a wide audience. In addition, Chinese consumers tend to trust information delivered by people much more than the one promoted via traditional channels, especially people with knowledge and experience about the topic like a restaurant, a hotel, a country, and so on.

In order to promote your brand and if you have any questions related to how to attract Chinese tourists, contact GMA now!

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