Chinese travellers plan ahead, take longer vacations this Chinese New Year

Travel trend analyst ForwardKeys has found Chinese New Year travels taking place earlier than usual this year, as Chinese consumers make smarter holiday plans to dodge crowds and expensive fares during the holiday rush. Consumers are also choosing to take a longer break after long years of staying put on home grounds.

ForwardKeys’ latest data showed that issued flight tickets for international travel from China for the period spanning January 26 to February 29 – comprising the official Chinese New Year public holidays from February 10 to 17 ­– are just 37 per cent behind 2019’s levels.

More Chinese travellers are planning ahead for their holidays, with issued tickets to Dubai, pictured, surpassing 2019 levels during this year’s Chinese New Year season

Departure activity spiked earlier than usual – as early as January 27.

According to ForwardKeys researchers, this year’s holiday season is particularly significant as it marks the first celebration following the easing of pandemic restrictions. The traditional seven-day holiday has also been extended to eight days.

Kuala Lumpur (up 15 per cent), Dubai (up eight per cent), and Macau (up eight per cent) surpassed 2019 issued ticket levels for this year’s Chinese New Year season, benefitting from relaxed entry requirements for Chinese travellers. Sydney (down five per cent) and London (down eight per cent) showed resilience with single-digit decreases against 2019 volume, while Singapore (down 18 per cent) and Seoul (down 22 per cent) continued to attract Chinese tourists with advanced flight connectivity and simplified visa procedures, noted the report.

ForwardKeys projects a peak in travel on the last two days of the Chinese New Year period and the day after the holiday period, as the Chinese choose to extend their vacation.

Examining Chinese travellers transferring on their way home, ForwardKeys’ data showed Istanbul and Abu Dhabi increasingly vital as connecting hubs, with Chinese transfers reaching 104 per cent and 75 per cent respectively of 2019 levels.

In terms of domestic trips, Haikou (up seven per cent against 2019) maintained popularity, while destinations in China’s north-eastern region, like Harbin and Changchun, exceeded 2019 levels by 15 per cent, driven by the appeal of winter sports and effective social media marketing.

Nan Dai, ForwardKeys’ China expert, commented: “The robust recovery of Chinese travel during the Chinese New Year period reflects not only the resilience of the tourism industry but also the strategic measures taken by the government and the changing preferences of Chinese tourists”

“The early spike in departure activity and the positive performance of various destinations signal a promising trajectory for the travel sector in the coming year. This presents a golden opportunity for tourism-related businesses, such as retailers, who can potentially take advantage of this surge in consumer activity and capitalise on the increased spending propensity of Chinese travellers during their extended holidays.”

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