‘Bling is out, experience is in’ for China’s super rich

EXPERIENTIAL travel is now as big for China’s affluent travellers as shopping, confirmed a new report conducted by Hurun and ILTM Asia.

The survey studied 291 of the super rich, defined as those who spent US$30,000 or more on travel last year alone and account for 65 per cent of China’s outbound travellers.

Indicative of this demographic’s shifting preference in travel, found the report, was the increasing popularity of the North and South Poles as destinations, where visitors shell out an average of US$19,300 per person.

Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of the Hurun report, unveiled the results of the study at ILTM Asia earlier this week. He said: “The growing popularity of Antarctica as destination for the Chinese luxury travellers shows how experiential these travellers are.”

Affirming this developing trend was Shaun Rein, founder and managing director of the China Market Research Group, who spoke at the ILTM Asia opening forum on Monday.

“(The Chinese) are spending more on experiences and are looking to travel to new and more exotic destinations,” he observed. “Destinations like Antarctica, South Africa and Canada are hot as they allow consumers to get back to nature and share those experiences on WeChat.”

But while the Chinese are now widening the scope of activities on their vacations, the high spending powers still makes this group a very attractive one to tourism stakeholders.

Rein commented that the Chinese are now moving from buying luxury products that can be bought by anyone else, to buying brands that show their individualism and creativity.

“Over the past five years, the Chinese consumer…rushed to buy Louis Vuitton and other luxury items to show status that they belonged to the elite group,” he said.

“This is changing… Bling is out, experiences are in, especially in international travel, but the spending is still there.”

Chinese travellers spent an average of US$58,000 per family last year, an increase of 5.5 per cent over 2013, while the average expenditure per person was US$22,580.

They are also travelling longer – the number of days used for travel grew to 20 last year from 18 days in the previous year.

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