China was the epicenter of the outbreak, but it’s recovering slowly from the virus’ impact. However, at the time of this writing, domestic travels are back to normal. Lockdowns are gone, and the government manages to contain the virus.
With months of isolation, people look forward to traveling. But tourists choose to immerse themselves in the beauty of local sceneries across the Mainland. They ensure that safety and health measures are implemented, from hand washing to social distancing and more.
That said, the new norm also spurs trends in traveling. For example, people are keen to use a private car and opt for independent travel rather than bus and group tours. The change in preferences is noticeable. Everyone is cautious.
The state of outbound tourism on pre-pandemic
China outbound tourism has been thriving before the outbreak, such as that back in the Spring Festival in 2019, the revenue was $142 million, according to CGTN. Meanwhile, outbound tourism trips were valued at $166 million with South Korea, the United States, and Japan is in the top three countries most visited.
Forecasted research by Skift showed that China would send 286 million tourists overseas by 2029. And although so far, outbound travels remain impossible, given the rising cases of infections are still unmanageable, domestic travel will help the economy rebound.
Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group, says, “Domestic travel is the first step toward recovery. We remain optimistic about the future.”
What’s currently happening right now on Chinese outbound tourism?
As of this time, as the economy is slowly recovering, the government is focusing on infrastructure and loans for state-owned businesses.
Overseas travel is still impossible as of this time. Although tourists can travel overseas, they’ll have to pay for themselves the 14-day mandatory quarantine. Therefore, some people are making up for domestic short trips that tourist guides and agencies offer.
In July, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced public measures in inbound travels, encouraging cross-provincial border trips. Furthermore, despite the losses during the quarantine, China Airlines slashes domestic tickets to increase ticket sales.
What’s going to happen to Chinese outbound tourism?
Inbound tourism is in, so what’s next with outbound tourism? While WHO has announced that overseas travel would resume 2021 or 2022, China has a role to play even in post-pandemic.
The crisis may spur new trends in outbound tourism, such as tourists will shy away from large groups and focus on private and customized tours with family members. What’s more, self-driving tours and smaller destinations are part of their bucket list instead of coach tours.
In March, Dragon Trail Interactive Research surveyed Chinese tourists and found out that:
- 88% of correspondents say they canceled or delayed their trips due to the outbreak, and half of them plan to travel once the crisis is over.
- Those born in the 1990s are more optimistic than their older generation and are willing to travel once the crisis is over and have more travel budget than any other age group.
- The crisis has shaped the priorities of the travelers, thus valuing family relationships. Travels will become family-centered, but health and safety and proper sanitation are still on top of the considerations to convince people to travel.
On top of these findings, the experts at COTRI are also observing the 10% of Chinese travelers who have passports and if their behaviors will change. Again, tourists will likely opt for short trips in nearby countries, but South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam could be on their list when things would go back to normal.
There are factors to consider as well, such as which country will let Chinese travelers. However, COTRI believes that Europe, Australia, and the United States will take more time or are the least destinations they will go to for now.
Implications for foreign companies worldwide?
China’s outbound tourism may have a slow recovery in the next few months as tourists will opt for domestic travels. However, this should not discourage overseas companies from exploring other opportunities such as virtual tours and other online activities to promote products and services. For example, you can have a virtual tour of the Great Wall of China or check some of Hawaii’s landmarks.
Undeniably, if you’re in the tourism, aviation, and hospitality sectors, it might take a while to recover on bookings and sales. Other than these, you can use your website to stay engaged with customers or other social media channels like WeChat, Weibo, Tiktok, and others.
There are many ways to capitalize on online platforms like videos. For example, some of the companies we worked with previously published videos with Mandarin voice-overs and even Chinese subtitles are also useful, like our work with Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH).
In short, despite the crisis, the internet has given you limitless opportunities to connect with your audience, anywhere in the world. With that, going digital should be part of your plan in the next coming months (and years), and localization should be done for better alignment with your organization’s strategy.
Let us know how we can help you with your online marketing activities. Whether it’s translating your website in Chinese or add subtitles in your videos that we can then upload to Chinese video platforms, everything is possible with the right tools.