With retail sales of luxury goods affected by China’s anti-graft policy, Chinese outbound tourists still preferred luxury hotels for their travels last year, the latest report commissioned by international tourism trade fair ITB Berlin says, which also suggests Macau and Hong Kong are still the most popular short-haul destinations for Mainland Chinese.
The report, conducted by tourism research firm IPK International and released on Monday, says the significant growth of the Chinese outbound tourism market in recent years has purely been generated by short-haul trips, of which the two Special Administrative Regions of the country are the leading destinations.
The firm cited official figures indicating a total of 105 million foreign trips by Mainland Chinese were recorded last year, of which 41 million were day-trips of Southern Chinese travelling to Macau and Hong Kong.
In addition, 27.4 million of the remaining 64 million foreign trips with an overnight stay also included the two cities as their destinations, suggesting trips to the two Special Administrative Regions accounted for 65 per cent of the total outbound foreign trips in 2014, whilst the number of international trips amounted only to some 36.6 million.
Luxury hotels preferred
The research firm also noted that Chinese tourists’ choice of accommodation had experienced dramatic changes, claiming the proportion of Chinese staying in first- class hotels for their foreign trips has been increasing by 28 per cent annually since 2007, reaching 55 per cent of the total last year at the expense of budget hotels.
However, the report did not elaborate upon the definition of ‘luxury hotel’.
‘The proportion of Chinese with higher education and high income represents a customer segment for international trips that is growing much more strongly than average. The increasing number of trips with children is also remarkable. These have risen tenfold over the last seven years and now comprise one third of all foreign trips,’ it wrote.
Length of international trips halved
Claiming Chinese are more in favour of short-haul international trips, the researcher says ‘a dramatic reduction’ in the length of foreign trips drove growth in the number of nights Chinese spend aboard, underperforming the growth in the number of foreign trips, which increased by 27 per cent and 168 per cent from 2007 to 2014, respectively.
According to the report, the 36.6 million international trips, excluding trips to the two Special Administrative Regions, generated 171 million overnight stays last year. However, the average length of a foreign trip of Chinese outbound tourists halved to 5.5 nights in 2014, compared to 10 nights on average in 2007.
‘The reason for this is the explosive growth of 444 per cent in short international trips of up to three nights, which amounts to a 27 per cent increase per year. In general, the strong growth in the last seven years was purely due to short trips of up to one week, while the number of longer trips has actually declined,’ it said.
Primarily holiday trips
Meanwhile, 80 per cent of the international trips are holiday trips driven by the growth of city trips, tours and event visits, the report said. In addition, business trips made by Chinese outbound tourists also increased by 5 per cent per year from 2007 to 2014, reaching 16 per cent of the total.
On the other hand, 68 per cent of the international trips that Chinese made were within Asia in the past seven years, while another 18 per cent of trips were to Europe, and 9 per cent to Australia or Oceania.
Despite 80 per cent of Chinese tourists taking flights for their trips, the report noted that cruise trips had registered an ‘extremely high growth’ by soaring 1,300 per cent last year compared to 7 years ago.
Nevertheless, this way of travelling accounted for only one per cent of the total.
The researcher also indicated that although Chinese outbound tourists use online bookings more often four out of five still tend to select packages offered by travel agents and tour operators online.
“Although experienced Chinese travellers are increasingly planning and travelling on an individual basis, the majority still overwhelmingly book through tour operators. Security is the most important factor for the Chinese when planning their travel, and that is what package trips offer. Foreign languages and the lack of multilingual signs in destinations still comprise a barrier that can be overcome with tour guides,” said Martin Buck, the senior vice president of IBT Berlin organiser Messe Berlin.
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- Chinese take shorter trips and choose luxury hotels more often @ HospitalityNet