The second phase of China’s outbound tourism recovery begins today, Monday 6 February. Chinese group tour travel will recommence to 20 countries. Eleven are in Asia Pacific: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, New Zealand and Fiji. The other 9 are United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, Cuba and Argentina. Sales of international group travel packages were suspended by the Chinese government on 24 January 2020 as it prepared to close the borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During the pandemic less than 10% of Chinese outbound travellers planned to take a group tour again. Mass market packaged coach tours are the popular image of Chinese tourists. They are, however, increasingly viewed as showing a lack of experience and style. Semi-organised tours, customised according to the preferences of travellers, will become the most important form of trip model.”
The China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023: 88 Practical Ways to Prepare for the New Wave of Chinese Visitors warns global destinations to re-think outdated pre-conceptions: “A fast-growing segment is semi-organised trips. This will become more important in the coming years than package tours. Such tours are still organised by tour operators, including OTAs, but they are customised according to the wishes of customers.”
But demand for group travel is likely to diminish. As the Handbook reiterates, “First-time travellers from lower-tier Chinese cities might still cling to cheap mass market package tours, but for most destinations and service providers they will create more problems than profit.” It continues: “The pandemic has underlined the vitality of travel planning freedom, and exploring destinations through a personal lens. More Chinese travellers will seek the flexibility to revise their itineraries on demand and create add-on activities while in the destination, which group tours cannot offer.”
The China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023: 88 Practical Ways to Prepare for the New Wave of Chinese Visitors is co-written by Wolfgang Georg Arlt and Gary Bowerman. It addresses the pivotal issues around Chinese Business Travel & MICE, Free Independent Travel (FIT), Package & Semi-organised Tours, Student Travel and Visit Friends & Relatives (VFR), plus much more.
The Handbook forecasts the number of outbound trips made by Chinese citizens will increase from 170 million in 2019 to 228 million in 2030. The 200 million milestone of annual cross-border movements from China is likely to be reached in 2028.
Written specifically for the global travel and tourism industry, the Handbook introduces the vital drivers of the first 25 years of Chinese outbound tourism since it officially began in 1997, and assesses the outlook up to 2030. The main section is divided into 88 key themes that will influence the development of Chinese outbound travel throughout 2023 and beyond. It features citations and references from 48 countries and 25 Chinese cities and provinces. It includes 264 insightful guideline tips for travel industry practitioners.
Each of the 88 segments features a quick-read summary at the beginning, up-to-date commentary and three bullet-point takeaways at the end. These are directly applicable actions to help travel, tourism and hospitality businesses tailor their products and services as well as their marketing to meet the new needs and aspirations of Chinese travellers.
The China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023 explores the dramatic changes within China over the past three years – and guides readers to view Chinese tourism through a new lens for an unfolding era of travel. It explores the emerging travel, technology, fashion, branding, retail, marketing and lifestyle trends in China during the pandemic.