Despite a slowdown in China’s economic growth Chinese people remain keen to travel, especially to destinations further afield than Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. According to Charlie Li of TravelDaily China speaking at the ITB Berlin Convention, this is due to the continuing growth of the middle classes and improved transport links in China’s second-string mega-cities. Whereas last year around 120 million Chinese went abroad, in 2020 that figure is expected to reach 200 million. The fact that currently only five per cent of the Chinese population have passports reflects the growth potential that still remains.
In China, the widespread use of mobile devices and social networks plays a much bigger role than in other markets. Already, in China they are used for more than 50 per cent of online travel bookings. Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce provider, has a big hand in the travel business with Alitrip, which it set up two years ago. Sherri Wu, responsible for Alitrip’s international business strategy, said her company aimed to cater for every possible service before, during and after a trip. “That is not something we can do alone. We need partners“, she said in Berlin. ITB China, which will take place from 10 to 12 May 2017 in Shanghai, will provide the opportunity to negotiate partnerships with Chinese companies, said Charlie Li.
According to Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Arlt of the COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, Chinese holidaymakers often go where friends have already been. Travelling makes one important and part of the crowd. Arlt advises tourism companies not to focus on destinations but on specific activities, such as diving or sailing. “People need a reason to travel to a particular destination“, is his advice to operators who want to benefit from China’s growth market.