Overseas travel swells during Spring Festival

Updated 2017-02-03 09:18:15 Global Times
The most popular islands (Photo/GT)

The most popular islands (Photo/GT)

Chinese tourist decisions have strong impact on world destinations: expert

A travel expert predicted that overseas spending by Chinese tourists will hit a record in 2017 as travel has become a predominant way to pass the Spring Festival holidays, which ended on Thursday.

Over 6 million overseas trips were expected to be made during the Spring Festival holidays, according to a report jointly compiled by China Tourism Academy (CTA) and online travel services provider Ctrip published on January 25.

The report analyzed the travel behavior of 250 million Ctrip users and predicted a total of 349 million domestic and overseas trips during the annual holidays.

A Ctrip staff member told the Global Times Thursday that these figures were quite accurate as few people cancel trips which take weeks of planning.

Global 'Golden Week'

"Currently, Chinese tourists going abroad has become something destination countries and the global tourism industry can not neglect, and this trend, without a U-turn in State policies, will continue to gain momentum in the next two decades," Yang Yong, dean with the School of Tourism at East China Normal University, told the Global Times Thursday.

According to the nation's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) for guiding the development of the tourism industry, posted on the government's website on December 26, 2016, the country aims to realize 150 million annual overseas trips by 2020, up from 2015's 117 million trips, with a planned annual growth rate of 5.09 percent.

Rising income levels, improvements in transportation infrastructure, visa facilitations, popularization of the Internet and smartphones are behind Chinese people's rising frequency in travels and increase in travel spending, noted the CTA/Ctrip report, which called the week-long Spring Festival holidays a global "Golden Week."

The report showed that Chinese tourists from 242 domestic cities would be traveling to 1,254 cities in 85 countries and regions globally.

If the per capita spending is 15,000 yuan (,183), a total of 100 billion yuan could be spent over 6 million overseas trips during the holidays, according to the report.

Li Ran, a 30-something Beijing resident, said she took her mother to Nha Trang, a coastal city in southern Vietnam for the holiday.

"I went there just to relax on the beaches and also have some quality time with my mom. Our package is a 6-day full package, which covers round trip flight tickets and hotel bills but also leaves two days at our disposal. We spent about 15,000 yuan for the trip," Li told the Global Times Thursday.

Li was one of 30,000 tourists expected by Ctrip to visit Nha Trang during Spring Festival. The report also noted that Chinese tourists' inclination toward peaceful sea resorts has put some travel destinations in the spotlight.

"Because of China's large population base and their widely diversified choices in travel destinations, their choices actually can influence the makeup of the world's next batch of famous travel destinations," Yang noted.

According to Ctrip, the average tour package of Chinese going abroad costs 9,000 yuan, up 12 percent year-on-year. Top of the notch trips, such as a safari tour in Kenya, cost as much as 500,000 yuan.

Top destinations include Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. Vietnam, Egypt, Italy, Spain, and the UK saw rapid increase in orders.

Future trends

"In 2017, overseas travel by Chinese is poised to grow further, as travel becomes people's habit," Yang said.

Yang said that the yuan's fluctuating exchange rate in past months has had little influence on overseas travel decisions and that modern technologies have helped Chinese tourists overcome language barriers.

About 122 million Chinese traveled abroad in 2016, nearly the overall population of Japan, ranking No.1 in the world, according to a separate report by CTA.

Chinese travelers spent 9.8 billion overseas in 2016, representing 16 percent of the country's total tourist expenditure, said the report.

"The high volume in overseas travel and spending is a lesson for the domestic travel industry to improve their products and services to make their supply more effective," Yang said, noting that after a curiosity for foreign things ebbs, people will turn their focus back to domestic travel destinations.

By 2020, the nation aims to record 6.7 billion trips, with overall investment in tourism totaling at 2 trillion yuan.

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