Outbound tourism set to rise, more overseas trips likely during Spring Festival period
Chinese mainland tourists' enthusiasm for overseas travel is expected to reach new heights during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays, while demand for inbound tourism will be more moderate. [Special coverage]
Sun Xiaoguang, a man in his late 50s from Changchun in Northeast China's Jilin Province, plans to travel to Vietnam with his sisters during Spring Festival this year. It will be the first time he has decided to spend the holiday week traveling abroad.
"I have always wanted to travel abroad during Spring Festival, but in the past I needed to save money for my children, and of course I was kind of used to the tradition of getting together with my relatives and friends during the Spring Festival holidays. This year I want to try something different, as my sisters also supported the idea, and we want to see what we can't see in the mainland," he told the Global Times on Monday.
He also said that domestic traveling during national holidays often involves wading into "a sea of people," and he believes that overseas tourism services "have a higher standard compared with the domestic situation."
A Beijing-based white-collar worker, who declined to be named, told the Global Times that she would travel to South Africa during Spring Festival this year, which will be the first time she has traveled abroad during the festival. "I want to see animals in South Africa. The Spring Festival holidays are an appropriate time," she told the Global Times on Monday.
Data that online travel platform Ctrip sent to the Global Times Monday indicated that outbound tourism trips will reach 6.5 million during the 2018 Spring Festival, compared with 6.15 million during Spring Festival last year.
Paying for quality
As their spending power has increased, mainland tourists are attaching more importance to the quality of outbound tourism services, rather than the price point.
The Beijing-based white-collar worker said she had paid for customized services for her trip to South Africa.
"I listed the places I want to go to, and the travel agent helped me arrange the itinerary," she said, adding that tourism service quality is what she cares about the most.
Sun said that although he would prepare a budget for overseas traveling, it wouldn't matter if it turns out that he spends more than planned.
Wang Wei, co-founder of Shenzhen Xinyoutianxia Travel Service Co, which specializes in outbound traveling services, said that nowadays domestic travelers prefer "higher-level" outbound tourism, which has features like more flexibility and smaller-sized tourist groups.
Wang said the number of outbound tourism orders rose by about 10 percent during this year's Spring Festival for his company.
The Ctrip data also showed that domestic travelers are expected to spend an average of 9,500 yuan ($1,502) per person on outbound trips during the 2018 Spring Festival, roughly the same level as Spring Festival last year.
Inbound travel stable
Compared with the rush of outbound travel, the inbound tourism market will be calmer during this Spring Festival, Sally Si, a sales manager at travelchinaguide.com, a Xi'an-based website specializing in inbound tourism services, told the Global Times.
"Winter is often a dull season for overseas tourists. Besides, although more and more overseas tourists are getting to know about Spring Festival, the attraction [of traveling to the mainland during Spring Festival] is still not big enough," she said on Monday.
But she said her company's data also showed that the overall number of overseas customers booking air and train tickets in the mainland during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays has increased compared with the same period last year, although inbound tour demand is about the same.
"For one thing, more and more overseas people are visiting the mainland not only for travel, but also for other purposes like business. And overseas tourists are also seeking a deeper experience in China, so they might not rely on mainland travel agents that much nowadays," she said.
Davide D'Ambrosi from Italy is planning to spend the upcoming Spring Festival in the mainland, but because he's marrying a Chinese girl, not for the sake of tourism. But he will take this chance to visit some of the cities near his wife's hometown, he told the Global Times on Monday.