The Great Chi­nese Travel Bazaar

Tourists are now sea­so­nand ac­tiv­ity-con­scious, the whole planet is their play­ground, and des­ti­na­tions abound

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By SHI JING in Shang­hai shi­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ex­pe­ri­ence, ris­ing dis­pos­able in­comes and in­crease in avail­able travel op­tions are making va­ri­ety­crav­ing Chi­nese tourists very dis­cern­ing, and adept at trip plan­ning.

They are aware of sea­sonal changes and the travel op­por­tu­ni­ties they bring, prompt­ing lead­ing travel agen­cies to come up with cus­tom­ized routes.

Ac­cord­ing to Ctrip.com In­ter­na­tional Ltd, China’s largest on­line travel agency, win­ter ski­ing trips are a big hit among Chi­nese tourists. Places such as Yab­uli, Chang­bai Moun­tain and Mohe in north­east­ern China are pop­u­lar among ski­ing en­thu­si­asts this year.

Given Chi­nese tourists’ pref­er­ence for out­bound trips, ski­ing re­sorts like Hokkaido in Ja­pan have also be­come pop­u­lar win­ter des­ti­na­tions. So have coastal cities such as Sanya of Hainan prov­ince and Xi­a­men of Fu­jian prov­ince. Is­lands in Thai­land, Malaysia, the Philip­pines and In­done­sia have al­ways been pop­u­lar among Chi­nese tourists.

Of late, Aus­tralia in the southern hemi­sphere has emerged a go-to place for Chi­nese tourists, thanks to the de­pre­ci­at­ing Aus­tralian dol­lar and cheaper travel prod­ucts. This year, tour prices were down 5 per­cent on-year, ac­cord­ing to Ctrip.

Sun Chaoy­ing, 43, a se­cu­ri­ties firm man­ager in Shang­hai, booked a twoweek trip to Aus­tralia two months be­fore the Chi­nese Lu­narNewYear’s Day, which falls on Feb 8 in 2016. To­gether with her fam­ily, Sun plans to leave for Sydney on Feb 10.

“Al­though Shang­hai has been quite warm this win­ter, the weather in Aus­tralia is­much­more­pleas­ant at this time of the year. More im­por­tantly, the air is so much bet­ter. We can take a break there while breath­ing in some fresh air. The sit­u­a­tion in Shang­hai is not much bet­ter than Beijing,” she said.

For some smog-weary Chi­nese trav­el­ers, the prospect of pol­lu­tant­free air has be­come the rai­son d’etre for over­seas travel. That’s not all. Even travel prod­ucts tout fresh air to tourists based in Beijing, Tian­jin and He­bei prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to Ctrip.

So, Canada, Switzer­land, New Zealand, theUnited State­sandMau­ri­tius are now pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for air-minded Chi­nese tourists. Be­sides, Ja­pan, the top des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese tourists, is also pre­ferred for its fresh air. Ja­panese cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Ok­i­nawa are ex­pected to re­ceive the big­gest chunk of Chi­nese tourists this win­ter.

“Travel for fresh air” is just one of the many trends seen in re­cent years. The last three sea­sons have been marked by do­mes­tic self-guided tours around the one-week Na­tional Day hol­i­day in Oc­to­ber, which is usu­ally the peak travel time, sta­tis­tics from the China Na­tional Tourism Ad­min­is­tra­tion sug­gest.

Thanks to the ad­vent of mod­ern ex­press­ways, a large num­ber of Chi­nese tourists choose to drive to neigh­bor­ing places and back th­ese days. Then there are those who love high-speed train travel, es­pe­cially given the con­ve­nient inter-con­nec­tions on routes, said Xue Beibei, a se­nior travel an­a­lyst at Nan­jing­basedHu­atai Se­cu­ri­ties Co.

Sum­mer is fam­ily trip time, ac­cord­ing to Ctrip. Sum­mer camps over­seas are be­com­ing pop­u­lar. Some 73 per­cent of the par­ents who went on fam­ily trips in the past sum­mer chose over­seas sum­mer camps.

In this re­gard, Aus­tralia is the No 1 des­ti­na­tion, fol­lowed by the US, theUnited King­dom and Sin­ga­pore. Par­ents in Shang­hai ap­pear to wel­come such over­seas camps. Some 62 per­cent of the camp tourists came from Shang­hai this year, fol­lowed by those from Beijing and Guang­dong prov­ince.

Flower is the buzz­word for travel dur­ing the spring. Dur­ing March and April this year, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Yangzhou were the most pop­u­lar cities among tourists.

Wuyuan in East China’s Jiangxi prov­ince is vis­ited a lot dur­ing late March as tourists de­scend to ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of hectares of rape flow­ers. Sim­i­larly, Wuhan of Hubei prov­ince en­joys a two-week glory pe­riod ev­ery year as its cherry blos­soms bloom.

Travel agen­cies are ever alert to cash in on such op­por­tu­ni­ties for short-time tours as not ev­ery­one is able to travel all the­way to Ja­pan, by far the best place for en­joy­ing sights of cherry blos­soms.

Ac­cord­ing to Ctrip, from late March to late April, nearly 350,000 Chi­nese tourists trav­eled to Ja­pan just to drink in the sights of cherry blos­soms in full bloom. Their num­ber had more than dou­bled since 2014, and their consumption in Ja­pan this year was es­ti­mated at 7 bil­lion yuan ($1.08 bil­lion).

With the visa ap­pli­ca­tion pro­ce­dures of var­i­ous coun­tries get­ting sim­pli­fied in 2015, out­bound travel has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially. It tran­spires tourists in Beijing are the most ef­fi­cient, in terms of tak­ing off right af­ter buy­ing trip prod­ucts on­line, ac­cord­ing to Ctrip. They are fol­lowed by tourists from Shang­hai, Shen­zhen, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

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