China’s tier-two cities heat up among mature Singaporean tourists

Zhangjiajie scenery at Wulingyuan, Hunan

China’s second-tier destinations are picking up in popularity among Singaporean travellers, particularly among the demographic of older working adults with higher spending power, observed travel agents at the NATAS (National Association of Travel Agents Singapore) Travel Fair last weekend.

The three-day fair, which attracted some 60,000 visitors over its first two days, featured booths touting flights to cities such as Hangzhou, Ningxia and Zhangjiajie, with a smattering of Silk Road itineraries.

Zhangjiajie scenery at Wulingyuan, Hunan

“China has its evergreen cities like Shanghai and Beijing, but we have seen an increase in demand for secondary cities like Ningxia,” noted Diana Tan, head of department for customer services, CTC Travel.

Drivers of this trend include increased flight connectivity since last year – Singapore is now connected to Nanchang, Haikou, Jinan and Nanning, with Guiyang coming this year – as well as luxury hotel chains planting their flags in such cities.

Zhu Wenbo, general manager of Travel 21, shared: “The Singapore market has always had the demand for China, but it has increased recently and we’re focusing on drawing it out now. Popular areas for us are Beijing, Yading and Chengdu, because traditionally travel agents include compulsory shopping tours in these itineraries, but we don’t have those and our customers appreciate that.”

He echoed that demand for group tours to these destinations have been on the rise, with Travel 21 even flying a group of 100 pax to Chongqing last year.

Travellers prefer a consistent “premium standard for food and accommodation” when travelling to China, and this includes “five-star hotels and above” as well as cultural activities and sightseeing, Zhu observed.

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