China’s stock markets may have crashed dramatically twice in the first week of 2016 and its economy showing continued signs of weakness, but Chinese nationals are proving to be a resilient lot when it comes to travel consumption.
Wang Suqi, president of Total Travel International Travel Service in Beijing, said that the weakened Chinese yuan was hardly an issue.
“I do not see any impact on travel because the Chinese are very rich. They will continue to travel and spend money,” Wang said.
Tony Li, managing director of Beijing-based Deluxe MICE Tour and Luxury Travel, shares the same observation:
“There are many first-time travellers in China and they are all eager to see the world. Their concern isn’t about the cost because they can afford it, rather they are worried about the safety and security of the destination.”
As a result, Singapore is a popular choice among Li’s travellers. According to him, at least 50 per cent of his travellers favour South-east Asian destinations like Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
“One of the good things about these countries is the climate. The Chinese like to travel to warm countries especially during winter,” he said.
Ding Hai Yang, general manager of Suzhou CITS, has also noticed Chinese travellers’ preference for Asia.
“Asia is considered safe and comfortable for the Chinese and its close proximity is attractive too,” Ding reasoned.
“Chinese outbound (volume) has been growing so much and I foresee it will continue to rise even more,” he said, brushing off any threats to travel demand posed by the depreciating Chinese yuan.
Maintaining the continued thirst for travel among the Chinese is a plethora of travel deals targeting the market, said Xu Jili, general manager of strategy development department of MICE projects with Silvermoon Advertising Beijing.
“In fact, if the Chinese were to travel within (China), it might be more expensive than going to a country in South-east Asia,” Xu said.
According to both Wang and Xu, the liberalisation of tourist visas for the Chinese in recent years has been a huge contributing factor to the growing outbound volume as Chinese travellers value convenience.
Sellers interviewed at ATF 2016 have also reported resilience in Chinese bookings and spend.
Hannah Paula Yulo, director of sales & marketing at Paradise Garden Resort Hotel & Convention Center in Boracay, Philippines, told TTG Asia e-Daily:
“Our 292-room property is fully booked for the Chinese New Year holiday period, mostly by Chinese tourists. Still, we have inbound agents handling the Chinese market requesting for more rooms. “The market is still healthy. We have forward bookings right up to September and we have not seen a drop in Chinese tourist spend.”
Mint Leong, managing director of Sunflower Holidays, whose company specialises in the Chinese inbound market to Malaysia, has seen a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in Chinese arrivals from 2014 to 2015.
She intends to intensify her marketing and promotional efforts to secondary Chinese destinations that have new air links deeper into Malaysia such as Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu.
New services soon to be introduced include AirAsia’s daily Kota Kinabalu-Wuhan flights from January 22 and Langkawi-Guangzhou two days after.
She said: “The Chinese economy may have slowed down, but the disposable income of middle and upper class travellers have not been impacted.”