Young Chi­nese trav­el­ers are in­creas­ingly opt­ing out of tra­di­tional ho­tels in fa­vor of shared ac­com­mo­da­tion. Yang Feiyue re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

Wang Hain­ing, a sea­soned trav­eler, who has vis­ited many cities both at home and abroad, chooses to avoid con­ven­tional ho­tels and in­stead opts for home­s­tay, as he says it is more costeffective and his host can in­tro­duce him to the lo­cal cul­ture.

“It’s a con­ve­nient way to get use­ful tips and gain a first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence of lo­cal life,” says Wang, who be­gan us­ing house-shar­ing plat­forms, such as Airbnb, Xiaozhu and Tang­guo, on the rec­om­men­da­tion of a friend.

“This way of trav­el­ing al­lows me to in­ter­act with lo­cal res­i­dents and get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal cul­ture and cus­toms,” he says.

There are a grow­ing num­ber of Chi­nese trav­el­ers opt­ing for peer-topeer ac­com­mo­da­tion when trav­el­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port jointly pub­lished by Airbnb and the China Tourism Academy, Chi­nese trav­el­ers have be­come big con­sumers of shar­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion over­seas, and their foot­print ex­tends from Asia to the United States, Eu­rope and Aus­tralia.

Airbnb tracked 1.6 mil­lion users abroad by Chi­nese trav­el­ers last year, up 142 per­cent over the pre­vi­ous year.

Those who were born in the 1980s and 1990s ac­count for 83 per­cent of all users.

Trav­el­ers on sight­see­ing and leisure tours are the main shar­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion con­sumers, and most of them travel with friends and fam­i­lies, the re­port says.

Travel pe­ri­ods span four to seven days.

More mean­ing­ful so­cial in­ter­ac­tions with lo­cals and unique ex­pe­ri­ences, as well as re­duced costs that al­low trav­el­ers to en­joy des­ti­na­tions and tourism ac­tiv­i­ties that would other­wise be out of reach be­cause of the cost were the ma­jor rea­sons cited for Chi­nese trav­eler’s choos­ing of shared ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Shar­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion has helped to stim­u­late tourism spend­ing, uti­lize idle re­sources and boost ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and cul­tural ex­changes, the re­port say.

The top over­seas des­ti­na­tions for shared travel in­clude Ja­pan, the United States, Thai­land, South Korea, Aus­tralia and Italy.

Chi­nese trav­el­ers made 1.22 tril­lion trips over­seas last year, and 47 per­cent of them had travel-shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, says Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy.

“Com­pared with other fields, the tourism in­dus­try has been greatly in­flu­enced by the shar­ing econ­omy,” says Dai, adding, “It is cre­at­ing a new mode of travel.”

The huge po­ten­tial of the shar­ing travel mar­ket in China has also caught the eye of some like Jin Dongzhe, the founder of Tang­guo, an in­ter­net com­pany that matches pri­vate house renters with tourists.

He no­ticed the great po­ten­tial in the pri­vate rental busi­ness when he en­tered the mar­ket in Liaon­ing prov­ince’s cap­i­tal Shenyang in 2007.

“There are many idle houses in China, es­pe­cially in the third- and fourth-tier cities, and they can sat­isfy trav­el­ers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion re­quire­ments,” he says.

The gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to sup­port bed-and-break­fast and short­term rentals in 2015 also en­cour­aged Jin to launch his new com­pany.

Tang­guo now has more than 3.5 mil­lion reg­is­tered users and cov­ers vil­las, home­s­tay venues, and apart­ments in 218 Chi­nese cities, and it is mak­ing in­roads in 30 coun­tries, in­clud­ing Thai­land, Sin­ga­pore, France, the US and Italy.

More than 6,000 Chi­nese vis­i­tors to Thai­land booked through Tang­guo dur­ing De­cem­ber 2016 to March 2017.

“I started as a pri­vate room bro­ker be­tween house own­ers and in­di­vid­ual trav­el­ers, and I know what both sides want,” Jin says.

Trav­el­ers can in­ter­act with the land­lords to get in­for­ma­tion on the nearby at­trac­tions and lo­cal his­tory and cul­ture, and Tang­guo pro­vides a clean­ing and main­te­nance ser­vice, so land­lords and renters don’t need to worry about the up­keep of the prop­er­ties.

Jin has a broad vi­sion for the shar­ing leisure ex­pe­ri­ence.

“In the fu­ture, if you want to go to the coun­try­side and have a bar­be­cue, for in­stance, you won’t need to buy all the equip­ment,” Jin says. “All you will need to do is find the grill and things you need on­line and they will be there when you ar­rive.”

Last but not least, he says, it means ev­ery­one can act as a tour guide and of­fer their own distinc­tive ser­vices.

“When travel stops be­ing just sight­see­ing and be­comes im­mer­sion in lo­cal life, we’ ll cre­ate a new travel lifestyle” Jin says .

This way of trav­el­ing al­lows me to in­ter­act with lo­cal res­i­dents and get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal cul­ture and cus­toms.” Wang Hain­ing, trav­eler from Bei­jing

Con­tact the writer at yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHOTOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

have be­come big con­sumers of shared ac­com­mo­da­tion over­seas, with their foot­print ex­tend­ing from Asia to the United States, Eu­rope and Aus­tralia. Trav­el­ers on sight­see­ing and leisure tours are the main con­sumers, and most of them travel with friends and fam­i­lies.

Chi­nese trav­el­ers

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