During China’s National Day holiday from September 29 to October 6 this year, Trip.com Group recorded a significant surge in outbound travel by over eight times compared to the same period in 2022.
The appetite for international travel was particularly evident among younger travellers. Looking at flight booking data, the post-90s remain the dominant group, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of outbound tourists, while the younger post-millennium generation, including Gen Z, exhibited the fastest growth rate, with a 22 per cent share, equal to that of the post-80s generation.
Destinations of choice for Chinese tourists during the Golden Week period continued to include Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and South Korea. Notably, longhaul international destinations such as Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and France experienced the fastest growth in tourist numbers compared to the Labour Day holiday in May.
An increasing number of overseas tourism businesses are gearing up to welcome Chinese tourists, with hotels in more than 15 popular destinations, including Dubai, Paris, and Kuala Lumpur, offering tailored services such as Chinese language support and payment options exclusively for Chinese travellers.
Cruise tourism is also emerging as a promising growth sector in 2024. The recent debut of the first domestically-produced large-scale cruise ship, Aida Modu, marked a milestone as being certified all ready to take to the open seas from its Shanghai dock. Domestically, daily ticket sales for its 2024 voyages surpassed 100. The ship’s cruising routes will include ports in South-east Asia.
Meanwhile, Alipay reported that the average spending of outbound Chinese travellers during the first five days of China’s National Day holiday has surpassed the level in 2019.
The number of daily transactions by inbound visitors to China using the 10 Alipay+ partner e-wallets (AlipayHK, mPay, Hipay, OCBC, Changi Pay, Touch ‘n Go eWallet, TrueMoney, Kakao Pay, Naver Pay and Toss Pay) increased by as much as 200 per cent.
The highest expenditure via Alipay during this period was on purchasing goods, including skincare products and duty-free goods, while F&B and accommodation ranked as the second and third largest spending categories, respectively.
In addition, Chinese tourists have increasingly turned to the various digital travel services on Alipay to elevate their travel experience, such as currency exchange, Coupon Hub, tax refund, and transportation, where the number of transportation-related transactions rose 16 times compared with the same period in 2019.
A recent survey on Chinese outbound tourism also found that Chinese travellers of all ages embrace digital technology in travel planning. It showed that they prefer mobile payments for their transparent and favourable exchange rates discounts and other value-added services offered, expense tracking facilitation, and safety and convenience over cash.
The most popular destinations based on total spending via Alipay include Hong Kong SAR, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as European countries like France and Italy. However, there was a notable increase in Chinese tourist spending via Alipay in less-explored destinations like Estonia and Qatar compared to the same period in 2019, indicating a shift in travel preferences.