Outbound tourism in the upcoming Golden Week – the first week of October – is expected to hit a new high in terms of the number of travelers this year, boosted by the easier visa procedures and increased flight routes to popular destinations, top industry experts said on Monday.
Destinations in Asia continue to dominate online searches by mainland tourists with Taipei and Seoul being the top choices, according to Hotels.com, a leading provider of hotel accommodations. The company has based its findings on data from its Chinese website and on search volumes for outbound destination hotels between Oct 1 and 7. The 10 most searched destinations included Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok, with Paris being the only non-Asian destination, the report said. According to Ctrip.com, a leading online travel agency from China, interest for island trips to destinations in South Korea and Thailand has been extremely high, with most trips during the Golden Week period fully booked.
The number of travelers to the United States and Australia has also been going up. Dong Wei, aveteran travel agent, said Chinese tourists are more interested in in-depth travel and self-driving tours in big countries like the US and Canada. They are no longer satisfied with just sightseeing products. Dong Lin, a 36-year-old resident of Beijing, her husband and 4-year-old daughter are visiting the west coast of the United States for the first time starting this week. Their two-week journey, planned two months ago, is going to cover popular sites including the Disney Resort, Universal Studios and SeaWorld Adventure Park.
But the big growth in the most searched overseas destinations for this October has been for trips to Rome and Florence in Italy, rising 116 percent and 98 percent in the year-on-year growth rate in terms of search volumes, according to Hotel.com. It attributed the desire to travel to Italy to the country’s quick visa policy implemented in July, which shortens the visa issue period to within 36 hours. According to online travel site LY.com’s forecast on willingness to travel and most popular destinations, nearly eight out of 10 respondents expressed desire to take a trip during the Golden Week, the same as that of last year, with more than 50 percent of them actually making the bookings.
About 18.6 percent of the respondents said they are planning to make an overseas trip and more than 80 percent of them have already booked their trips. There is also an increase in terms of the number of tourists who choose to travel on an individual basis rather than as an organized group. An updated travel forecast published on Monday on Baidu.com, a Chinese search engine, shows that Japan, Thailand and South Korea are the top three travel destinations for Chinese tourists. The United States is ranked fourth in the list and is followed by Italy and France.
In terms of the actual travel destinations, Phuket Island in Thailand, Venice in Italy and Seoul in South Korea are the top three while Tokyo in Japan and Bangkok in Thailand were ranked fourth and fifth respectively. New air routes and added flight frequencies and easier visa procedures to South Korea have once again pushed up the number of visitors to the country. Last year, the number of Chinese visits to South Korea rose by 52.5 percent to 4.32 million, surpassing Japan as the lead nation.
According to Ctrip, the travel agency has sold more than 10,000 products online for the October holiday to 442 destinations at home and abroad. About 90 percent of the popular routes have been fully booked, it said. About a month ago, the bookings for travel products during the Golden Week reached its peak, resulting in limited resources in flights and hotels and surging prices, according to Ctrip. Domestic flight ticket prices in the beginning of October are only second to the peak prices during Spring Festival. Flight routes departing from the major cities of Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing have jumped more than 50 percent, it said.