The Chinese Tourist Academy (CTA), along with the leading Chinese online booking agency CTRIP, have recently released the popularity charts for the “Golden Week” national holidays in 2011 in February (Spring Festival) and October (National Day). The popularity charts include the Top 10 cities with the highest number of tourist departures and arrivals, the main domestic and outbound destinations and specific data for individual trips. To obtain these results, CTA and CTRIP studied and analyzed hotel and flight reservations to determine the situation of individual and group trips in the main cities and travel destinations during the “golden week”. The results were published in Chinese and edited and translated by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, based in Heide (Germany) and Beijing (China).
Market review: huge demand and growing market
In 2011, both inbound and outbound tourism show excellent results. The number of tourists as well as the tourism income and the average consumption has continuously increased. Compared to traditional sightseeing tours, leisure vacation has now become the mainstream, among which individual and indepth tours as the most preferred ones. The consumers are paying more and more attention to quality and are willing to pay fair prices for that. The demand of tourism products of middle and high level is growing.
More than 12.000 people filled out the “2011 travel questionnaire of national holidays”, organized through micro-blogs by CTA, CTRIP and SINA. According to the results, nearly 60% of the interviewee expressed the desire to travel during the “Golden week”, among which 2/3 will take a short trip, will take a longdistance inland trip and about 10% will take an outbound trip. The survey also shows that 18% of those polled will participate in a group tour with a travel agency, while 82% will choose an individual tour.
Among the most important factors that tourists care about are accommodation, safety, price, transport and destination’s experience and reputation. The preferences by different means of transportation are normal trains (27%), flights (24%), self-driving (17%), buses (17%) and high speed and bullet trains (15%). Prices raised. Main tourist concentrations in western and eastern regions.
During the national holidays, the tourists are concentrated especially in Western China provinces such as Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan or Sichuan. In Eastern and Southern China, cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Xiamen, Sanya and Qingdao are the most popular destinations. In all destinations, the number of individual tourists has substantially grown. In Sanya (Hainan), 1/3 of the tourist made use of the opportunity of duty-free shopping. Furthermore, many tourists are now interested in short tours around cities, with resorts close to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen getting increasingly popular.
Three main factors pushing the outbound market
The three factors that nowadays decisively contribute to boost the outbound market are the appreciation of RMB, the loosening of the visa restrictions and the opening of new air routes. The trips to Europe and USA are becoming more popular, while in Southeast Asia, tours show good developing trends and have managed to get more individual trips during 2011. The opening of new direct air connections to destinations like Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa and Mauritius is helping these destinations to become new popular sites for the “Golden week”.
Under the circumstances of appreciation of RMB and the inland inflation, many people now see outbound tourism and shopping as an attractive choice. Hong Kong and Seoul are the first choices because of the short distance and low flight prices. The average consumption of mainland tourists taking the DFS Hongkong duty-free shopping tours organized by CTRIP, is expected to be between 5.000 and 6.000 RMB (590-710 Euro).
In trips to Japan, group tours reservations have increased but still did not reach the level they had before the earthquake. In 2011, Japan has loosened the restrictions on individual travel visas, so the number of tourists going on individual tours has largely increased. The tourists who have reserved individual tours by CTRIP have made up 50% of the total amount. It is estimated that individual tours will be an important section of Japanese travel market.
In trips to Taiwan, 2011 witnessed the first “Golden week” after the individual tours to Taiwan have been authorized. Cities where this measure has been implemented will certainly experience slight increases of tourist arrivals. As an example, the number of CTRIP individual tourists leaving from Shanghai to Taiwan has doubled. Most of them are young people interested in sightseeing.
Thanks to the increased demand of leisure travels, the improvement of the transportation, the loosening of visa restrictions and the fast development of the E-commerce, it seems that the time of individualization, self-service and networks of the Chinese travel market has already arrived. Individual tours have definitely taken over the leading roll and consequently, individual tourism market research in order to offer specialized products and services has become an important issue for both tourism companies and
Among the 2.1 billion tourist arrivals last year, only 100 million were organized by travel agencies. The individual tours have become the mainstream and the tourism industry should pay attention to this change and offer specialized products and services. The tourism departments of all places should improve tourism public information services, such as reports about weather conditions, geological disasters, epidemics and transportation, in order to provide better services to the growing number of individual tourists.