It wasn’t long ago that tourism packages were selling out in seconds online in China. While there are no shortage of Chinese desiring to travel — China’s National Tourism Bureau estimated 77 million outbound travelers in 2012, roughly equivalent to the population of Germany – the kinds of trips people are taking are changing. So are the reasons why they are taking them. The three most prominent groups of Chinese tourists today are honeymooners, “silvers”, and donkey friends, according to Design Mind.
As Generation X, the first generation of the one-child policy, reaches their twenties and thirties, their well-to-do parents are anxious to give them a happy send-off into married life. Many young Chinese couples use the occasion of their nuptials to take their first trip abroad. Over the past few years, the Maldives has emerged as a popular destination. In 2010, 12,000 Chinese tourists visited.
Retirees are also spending more time overseas. China’s “silver segment” – those over the age of sixty — will nearly triple from 165 million in 2010 to almost 440 million in 2050, says the Boston Consulting Group. With China’s ever-growing middle class, elders are retiring with higher personal incomes than previous generations. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan remain the most popular destinations for the silver segment. But a growing number is venturing to Europe and the U.S. as part of the bucket list phenomenon. Many seniors are willing to book expensive trips abroad after being inspired by photos, movies, or magazines.
Donkey friends, people aged eighteen to thirty-five who organize themselves via social networks, like to go adventuring. They often don’t even know each other prior to traveling together. They aren’t at all interested in package tours; rather, they stay in hostels and hike or swim in remote locations. Nepal, Inner Mongolia, and the mountainous areas of Guizhou in southwest China are their favorites.
As more disposable income is available for travel, Chinese tourists are seeking memorable, unique experiences that reflect their own interests and values. The sometimes sub-par customer service and experience of domestic tour package companies fails to wow participants. Travel is now a main source of leisure and entertainment for the luxury segment of the market.
image credit: remon rijper