Staying home for Spring Festival is fast becoming “old tradition”, while newer, more exciting prospects of fun in the sun lure China’s youth away from the depths of a cold, mainland winter holiday.
According to NewsTravel, the Ctrip 2019 New Year Travel Report, revealed customised and independent travel is on the rise, with Chinese tourists this year reportedly journeying to over 978 cities at home and 96 countries abroad.
While Japan took first place last year, it was Thailand that came out on top in 2019. Those within the industry claim this to be a result of Thailand’s recent visa-on-arrival incentive. Following disaster in Phuket whereby a boat capsized in July last year, killing over 33 Chinese tourists, such an incentive was paramount; it worked.
Statistics show Bangkok was the top port of arrival for those flying into Thailand, followed by Phuket, Chang Mai and Ko Samui, which all featured on the Ctrip top ten overseas destinations for the 2019 Chinese New Year. Other hot spots on the list included Sapporo and Tokyo, Singapore, Siem Reap, Manila and Dubai.
Those “customising travel” for their new year break saw an increase of 160 percent, selecting to choose group tours, tickets, customised tours, cruises, local guides, study tours etc. While Chinese tourists are known for travelling in large tour groups, independent travel continues to be on the rise; “gourmet travel”, “outdoor walking tours” plus “health and wellness tours” being current popular options.
In fact, the trend is so pronounced that Ctrip revealed the split in bookings between group and independent travel to be 50:50. Additional data from the New Year Travel Report showed that on (Chinese) New Year’s Day independent travellers visiting Hong Kong increased by 40 percent and those adding customised activities to their basket again increased by 150 percent.
However, while it is tempting to think that more travellers as a whole, whether group or individual, equates more spending, this has not been the case this year in Macao. Bloomberg notes, “High rollers are staying away from the gaming tables in the territory as China’s economic slowdown and trade tensions pressure consumer spending”, while business information company focused on travel intelligence, Skift, comments, “The good news for Macau is the week-long Chinese New Year holidays brought nearly 900,000 visitors from the mainland. The bad news is many were day-trippers checking out a new bridge and leaving without spending much, or at all”.