According to proprietary research conducted by Attract China, Inc., The Leading Gateway to the Chinese Traveler, it is predicted that in 2015, 140 million Chinese tourists will go abroad, spending more than $188 billion. The US tourism industry can expect to see as many as 2.85 million Chinese visitors in 2015, where they will spend more than $15 billion dollars. As the growth in Chinese tourism impacts the hospitality and travel industry, it’s more important than ever for hotels, restaurants, retailers and destinations to understand the wants and needs of the independent Chinese traveler.
Attract China has compiled a list of the top five 2015 travel trends that industry leaders need to know about Chinese tourism.
1. The Number of Independent Travelers Will Continue to Rise
Under the new visa policy, Chinese travelers can continually visit the US for ten years on a single visa and no longer need a travel agency to complete the application process. While this is not important for tourists who travel in groups and rarely leave China, this is a major win for independent Chinese travelers, who are becoming repeat guests to businesses worldwide. It’s predicted that the new policy will result in up to 7.3 million Chinese visitors to the US by 2021, with an economic impact of $85 billion, according to a report by the US Department of Commerce.
2. They Are Seeking Authentic Local Experiences
With a new visa policy that allows them to visit the US multiple times over ten years, Chinese tourists don’t need to rush their experience and be forced to visit the well-known attractions in big cities all at once. They can plan their own itineraries, spend an extended period of time in one region and enjoy unique local experiences like horseback riding in the Grand Canyon or skiing at a New Hampshire resort. They seek local and unique experiences that other Chinese, especially the group tours, do not have access to.
3. The Growing Importance of Search and Booking Trips on Mobile
According to the China Internet Network Information Center, China now boasts more than 618 million internet users, more than 80 percent of which access the web via a mobile device, and the percentage of those using mobile apps has risen from 6 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2014. The rise of the digital age in China means that travel booking is also going online with more than half of Chinese international travelers (53 percent) booking their hotel accommodation on the web or via mobile apps, a method that is particularly popular with independent travelers under the age of 25.
4. An Increasing Number of Direct Flights
In 2006, there were ten non-stop flights between the US and China, amounting to 2 million passenger trips per year. In 2014, the number of non-stop routes jumped to 35, with an additional three non-stop flights already announced for 2015.
5. The Rise of UnionPay Cards
According to a 2014 Nilson report, UnionPay, the world’s most popular bankcard brand, with a global market share larger than American Express, MasterCard and Visa combined, accounts for 90% market share of all cards in China. It also has a much larger average purchase transaction ($319) in comparison to Visa ($80) and MasterCard ($87). The UnionPay brand has been expanding rapidly overseas with 400 domestic and overseas associate members, covering more than 140 countries and regions worldwide.
Attract China works to connect destinations including hotels, restaurants, retailers and attractions to the independent Chinese traveler. Through customized, Mandarin-language content, website and social media, Attract China’s team of experts helps its clients reach, attract and maintain lasting relationships with Chinese tourists. For the latest news and insight on Chinese tourism, follow Attract China’s blog and Twitter feed.