Young Chinese embrace independent travel – study

89% of Chinese FITs are aged 18-44, the survey found
89% of Chinese FITs are aged 18-44, the survey found

An increasing number of Chinese travellers are shunning group tours and embracing independent travel, a new study has found.

In its “China Unbounded: The Rapid Rise of China’s Outbound Millions” report, TripAdvisor found that China’s FIT market is growing strongly, driven by a rising number of younger travellers.

“More often than not,” TripAdvisor stated, “China’s FITs are young, well-educated and relatively affluent”.

Almost nine out of 10 (89%) Chinese FITs are aged 18-44, with 41% falling into the 25-34 age bracket. More than three-quarters (77%) have an undergraduate degree or higher and 44% earned a monthly income of CNY15,000 (approx. US$2,300) or more. And English proficiency is reasonably high among Chinese FITs, with 41% saying they can understand English.

Unsurprisingly, a larger share of Chinese FITs comes from first tier cities, with Guangdong province reporting the highest number, followed by Shanghai, Sichuan province, Beijing and Jiangsu province.

“China’s growing number of FIT present vast, untapped opportunities for global tourism service providers and hospitality businesses,” said Leo Lin, chief of staff for TripAdvisor’s Chinese brand, Mao Tu Ying. “Businesses with the goal of attracting Chinese FITs not only need to come up with a strong, tailored strategy, but be prepared to constantly adapt to evolving expectations.”

On average, Chinese FITs have taken 5.5 international trips in their lifetime, higher than the overall Chinese average of 5.2. And these travellers also have a short travel planning cycle, with nearly one-third (32%) choosing their destination just one or two weeks prior to departure.

In terms of preferred destinations, short-haul travel to neighbouring countries continues to dominate outbound trips. More than 90% of Chinese FIT trips were to destinations in Greater China, North Asia and Southeast Asia, with Japan, Thailand and South Korea the top three countries. The US, France and UK were the top long-haul destinations.

Chinese FITs spend on average CNY17,713 (US$2,729) per trip, with 29% having spent CNY20,000 or more on their last overseas trip. Chinese FITs from bigger cities spent the most per trip, and the biggest spenders were found to be from Beijing (CNY26,438). Shopping (42%) is the most popular activity for travellers, especially on short-haul trips.

The study, which was conducted by Phocuswright and sponsored in part by TripAdvisor, surveyed more than 3,000 outbound Chinese travellers. In total, 120 million Chinese travelled overseas in 2015, spending US$205.7 billion.

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