China’s tourists warming up to foreign travel again

Destinations across the globe are pinning hopes on China leading travel recovery, as a recent survey reveals 45 per cent are willing to travel overseas this year.

At last week’s inaugural Arabian Travel Market Virtual, panel members discussed a joint survey by Ivy Alliance Tourism Consulting, China Comfort Travel Group, and PATA, which revealed 60 per cent of Chinese intend to travel in 2020, with more than 45 per cent wanting to go abroad.

A recent survey showed Chinese travellers are keen to travel abroad, with more preferring to tour in small groups

Adam Wu, CEO of CBN Travel & Mice and World Travel Online, regarded the results as “very good news for foreign destinations (that) need to start planning for this”.

Tropical island and cultural destinations topped the choices, with a shift in travel trends to favour smaller group travel. Almost half of the respondents said they prefer group tours, however, the wake of coronavirus has led to a surge in demand for small group tours and FIT.

Tony Ong, chief business officer and vice president of HCG International Travel Group, said: “Groups will be smaller, reduced to 10-50 people, which will probably happen one to two months after borders have opened.”

Japan was the number one desired destination, followed by Thailand, Europe, the Maldives and Singapore.

Helen Shapovalova, founder and director of Pan Ukraine, predicts ecotourism will be a major trend with Chinese travellers once restrictions are lifted. She said: “Natural settings with green open spaces, mountains, rivers and fresh air will play a big part post-Covid-19.”

While shopping has always been a major drawcard for Chinese tourists, especially luxury goods, it is expected this may change as travellers balance risk management with the customer experience.

Destinations around the world need to start preparing for the rebound in China outbound tourism: Wu

Lisa Dinh, tourism director at VIA Outlets, said: “Trust is the new currency. The demand is still there, but health and safety and relationship-building will be key. Training will be essential to changing mindsets.”

Agreeing, Taleb Rifai, chairman of the International Institute of Peace for Tourism, said that destinations need to have solid health and safety measures in place if they want to capture the market.

He added global governments need to work together by signing bilateral agreements. An internationally-recognised certification programme would also help standardise levels of sanitisation and build consumer confidence.

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