Young Chinese travellers are spending more and travelling farther. Industry experts say the latest trend for Chinese Millennials is visiting Northern Europe. Some adventure-seekers are even posting selfies from the North Pole.
First quarter data from the China Tourism Research Institute and Ctrip, the country’s largest online travel agent, shows Russia, Denmark, and Sweden registered the fastest growth in terms of Chinese tourist arrivals. These trips come at a high cost for Chinese tourists. A typical package tour to the Nordic countries can cost anything from 20,000 yuan (US$2,950) to 40,000 yuan, almost twice the amount of a similar tour to Western Europe.
“They want to be different. Nowadays if you share pictures of your trip to Bangkok or Hong Kong on WeChat, not many of your friends will be impressed. But, if it is about your adventure in the Arctic, it will create some hype,” Jacques Penhirin, partner and head of Greater China with London-based consulting firm Oliver Wyman, told the South China Morning Post.
This trend reflects what travel technology company Sabre found earlier this year in their study which aimed to understand the major trends shaping China’s booming travel trade. Sabre’s research showed that more than half of Chinese Millennials consider travel as a ‘new form of social currency.’ The majority of survey respondents said they travel to connect and build stronger emotional bonds and enrich their life experiences to share with loved ones. This sharing typically takes place on social media. As digital natives, young Chinese travellers mirror their Western counterparts in terms of online dependence and influence. According to a report by Fung Business Intelligence (FBI). “The post-’80s and ’90s generations, who spend substantial amounts of time on social media platforms, are more likely to be affected by their friends in WeChat Moments and various key opinion leaders on social networks.”
Across demographics, China’s outbound tourism growth is rising due to a growing middle class. Nine out of 10 Chinese outbound travellers now have the means and are hoping to travel more frequently as compared to five years ago. Research has also found young Chinese travellers spend more than their peers from other Asian countries. This is also good news for more mainstream tourist locations, such as London. New figures from VisitBritain show bookings from Chinese tourists in the first three months of 2017 were 43% higher than the same time last year. This surge has been attributed to a weaker pound and a simpler visa system for Chinese tourists. “China is the world’s largest outbound market and a huge tourism opportunity for Britain,” said VisitBritain director Patricia Yates. “Britain is offering great value right now, we want to make sure the UK is at the top of their list as a must-go-now destination.”
According to Chinese outbound travel experts, the key element for connecting with this growing travel market is to gain a deeper understanding of their evolving preferences. “It is by observing current attitudes and aspirations that we are able to anticipate and understand the dynamics of the Chinese market within the broader context of a transforming travel landscape,” said Alan Chen, regional director, North Asia, Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific. If North Pole selfies are an indication, the travel industry should expect Chinese Millennial and GenZ travellers to continue to push into more exotic and adventurous destinations.
If your travel organisation sends or receives Chinese tourists and would like greater insight into the habits and motivations of travellers ages 18-35, consider taking part in the New Horizons survey. This global survey, conducted by WYSE Travel Confederation, is the only recurring survey of travellers ages 18-35. To take part in the survey, or share it with consumers, click here.