YOUNG Chinese are pushing the boundaries of international travel, increasing their travel expenditure in the past year by 80 per cent to fund social media-influenced trips full of edgy experiences, hi-tech accommodation and exotic delicacies, a survey has found.
The research, by Hotels.com, found that Thailand serves up most of these requirements.
Keen to get down with authentic experiences, Chinese tourists born after 1990 are putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to spending choices – tasting exotic local delicacies (69 per cent) and scouring the streets for authentic local items (43 per cent) over shopping for luxury items (38 per cent), the survey found.
Star-struck by global pop-culture, film and television (62 per cent) are now the main sources of inspiration for Chinese millennial travellers, playing a key role in attracting them away from Asian destinations, and to more far flung parts of the world.
Long-haul destinations will be this year’s trend for Chinese travellers. While Asia continues to be a popular destination, with 49 per cent planning to travel to Asian destinations during the next 12 months, destinations farther afield in Europe, Africa and the Middle East are the top new destinations for more than half of travellers for future trips.
Chinese travellers still feel the need for an easy lifestyle integration, the research found.
They still feel welcomed in Thailand, taking the second position after Japan this year. For Chinese visitors, key reasons for feeling welcome in Thailand is due to the widespread acceptance of Chinese mobile wallets (64 per cent), sufficient translations/signage (41 per cent), and ease of information (40 per cent).
The new generation of Chinese travellers’ needs and preferences have changed according to latest report from Hotels.com. Tour groups have grown to be outdated as Chinese are growing to enjoy independent travel in Thailand, where they are more likely to travel on a free-and-easy basis, thanks to Thais’ local delicacies, ease of visa application, quality of accommodation, and a shopping paradise.
Thailand is still one of the destinations where they prefer to travel; with its famous local craft and products that Chinese can buy (56 per cent) as well as number of remarkable places to visit - such as the Royal Palace. This is the No 1 landmark for Chinese visitors to Thailand.
With a 12 per cent increase from 2017, Chinese visitors are important for Thailand’s tourism industry. A better understanding of evolving their needs should put Thailand tourism industry on the pulse of the country’s biggest group of customers. Thailand tourism industry should maximise the benefits of understanding the changing taste of Chinese travellers.
According to the research from Hotels.com, new and distant locations are on the agenda for Chinese. While more than one third (37 per cent) of travellers still intend to visit countries they have been to before, they will go to different cities. Key locations in Asia are top of the list for these touristsm such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
How Thailand could retain Chinese travelers might lie in the finding that the new generation of Chinese tourists prefer a taste of authentic experiences. The public and private sectors such as local communities and relevant organisations can tap on this trend to publicise their local handicrafts, herbs and cuisine in each areas. Activities include fabric craft skills, the natural indigo dying or weaving traditions of regional provinces of the country and silverware in several parts of Thailand.
The government and hoteliers can fill in the gap to improve any other important factors that Chinese are looking for such as advancement of QR code scan via WeChat, improvement of accommodation facilities; local transport arrangements, high-speed Wi-Fi and customer services, and reservation methods for local experiences and activities. Those are key considerations that Chinese expect when they are travelling to other countries.
Nelson Allen, general manager, Asia Pacific of the Hotels.com brand, said: “While millennials were at the helm of social media influence and trends, the report found no generation was free from social networking’s undeniable draw.
“Some 52 per cent of Chinese travellers overall were wooed by the power of the news feed, and a third of the older generation reported their travel decisions and behaviour were influenced by their digitally-connected children,” Allen said.
Johan Svanstrom, president of the Hotels.com brand, said: “Every globe-trotter likes to feel welcome in a new country – it’s no secret we all crave human connection which is especially true when we’re in a new environment. We know from the CITM report Chinese travellers feel comfortable and most welcome in destinations when shop assistants speak Mandarin, Chinese mobile wallet is accepted, and there is signage they can understand.
“Accommodation providers can get excited about the new wave of edgy and energetic Chinese, tapping into this lucrative market by catering to their ever-curious travel desires. It’s all fun and freedom for the future of the Chinese travellers and Hotels.com can’t wait to come along for the ride.”