Previewing the Return of Chinese International Travel
With summer tourism approaching and international travel restrictions shifting minute-to-minute, many countries will see spurts of international visitation this summer. However, we are not likely to see an immediate full scale return of Chinese tourists given the current quarantine requirements for reentry to China, as well as concerns about recent COVID outbreaks in Asia.
C2 Global surveyed 1,107 Chinese consumers in April 2021 who have traveled in the previous 6 months to study their intentions and preferences for future domestic and international travel.
Business Travel Will be the Last to Rebound
China residents have primarily traveling for pleasure the last since months domestically – only 22% have traveled for business, compared to close to 55% for pleasure.
Domestic Travel Adaptation to COVID: Regional Travel & Self-Drive
When asked how COVID has changed their domestic travel patterns, respondents cited choosing nearby destinations, driving rather than taking mass transportation, reducing the duration of their trips, camping or booking an Airbnb instead of a hotel, while some cancelled their trips outright.
International Travel: “It’s Complicated”
Vaccinations are the key stipulation to travel internationally for Chinese citizens. 45% say they will travel internationally after they are vaccinated and 30% say they will travel after quarantine requirements expire. Business is the least likely motivation for China residents to travel internationally.
U.K., Canada Top Long-Haul Destination List
Chinese tourists will likely travel close to home and stay in the Asia region initially, with top destinations including Japan, Korea, Oceania and Southeast Asia. However, as Chinese begin to venture farther afield, we expect the U.K., Canada, Russia and Western Europe to top wish-lists of long-haul destinations in the COVID aftertimes.
COVID Will Accelerate Shift to Individual Travel
Chinese tourists have been increasingly abandoning the group tour format, preferring to travel independently and take more control over their travel planning and experience. COVID will accelerate this trend and lead to even higher adoption rates of individual travel.
Hotel & Transportation Safety and Sanitization are Top Concerns for COVID Safety
Chinese travelers are concerned about hotel & transportation sanitization when booking their international trip. Like all international tourists, they will also be paying close attention to COVID infection numbers at the destination and quarantine policies at the destination and for return to China.
Destinations Should Focus Messaging on Safety
As destinations welcome back Chinese tourists, they should primarily focus messaging on any safety precautions that are currently in place — both at the local government level and in their specific destination.
COVID Fears Stem Primarily from Public Transportation, Restaurants and Hotels
Chinese tourists are much more comfortable traveling domestically in all situations — however, the activities in which they are most wary are public transportation, restaurants and hotels.
Watch October Holiday for Potential Chinese International Tourism Rebound
When Chinese tourism picks up will ultimately depend on the progression of the virus and national policies for quarantining, but survey respondents are anticipating some level of international travel within 6 months – which is just in time for potential travel during the October “golden week” or holiday travel.