Today, traveling has become more reachable than ever before. Affordable prices, creative packages and in the end, digital platforms have all had their part in motivating people to explore the world now more than ever. One group of travelers stands out very strongly in this story.
You’ve guessed it, we’re talking about the Chinese.
Even though only 6% of the Chinese own a passport, they’ve still managed to create the leading global outbound market, with numbers increasing each year. By 2021, Chinese tourists will spend $US 429 billion abroad, according to a report made by CLSA.
Changing the game
But why are they making such a strong impact on the industry? The story behind this is rather interesting. The Chinese tourist today are seeking the spontaneity, adventure and flexibility that comes with free, independent travel (FIT).
They’ve changed the way we look at traveling, which was very often viewed through a prism of tourist agencies as the primary contact for any relevant information about a certain destination. Today, we have the internet, and today, they’re using it to create their ultimate travel experience.
As we think of them as tourists, we often imagine them arriving on a certain destination in groups of 10 or more people, guided by colorful flags that are usually carried out by tourist guides. A part of them can still be seen in those same groups, but a much larger amount of Chinese has taken a different, more interesting turn on traveling. CLSA made a special report on their traveling habits that you can explore here.
The rise of the economy
Their impact on the local economies could, and hopefully will be massive, since they are spending double the international average on their journeys. That right there presents an opportunity for any type of business, especially for tourist agencies and tour operators to expand their offer to meet the need of potential customers even more.
Even though the Chinese represent the largest FIT segment of travelers, there still is a semi-FIT part of them that is interested in having at least some part of their journey organized. This fact opens various possibilities for the tourism industry to stand out on the Chinese digital quest for the best travel ideas and experiences.
One of the important aspects the Chinese have brought to the table is the return to a visited destination. Unlike most of the travelers, the Chinese have a strong tendency to return to a previously visited destination to experience it completely. They are motivated by experiences that differ completely to everyday life and where there is an opportunity to learn. This usually refers to different customs, cultures, languages, cuisines, scenery, and activities.
As a result, we will notice economic buildups of specific countries, especially in the accommodation and food sector. On the other hand, many countries will have to adapt their usual tourism concepts and gradually expand them to fit the needs of this fast-growing segment of travelers.
Rising challenges for specific destinations
Countries such as Thailand and Brazil are already adapting their infrastructure to meet the numbers of inbound tourist from China. Even though many people consider the Chinese as a different and socially awkward group of travelers, the key to manage them is to mix them with other different nationalities to avoid any uncivilized situations.
The Chinese may present the largest group of travelers today, but under no circumstances should they overwhelm other visitors. Nonetheless, some also point to the dangers of relying too much on Chinese visitors, not least because the Communist Party uses tourist flows as a political weapon.
Overall, we must start to view the Chinese differently. Quickly losing their tourist title, they now present world-class travelers eager to explore the unknown and seek new adventures.
Have you considered adapting your business strategy to this global phenomenon? What are your thoughts on this newest trend in the tourism industry?