Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and SEA Lead As Coveted Destinations; OTAs As the Preferred Source for Travel Information, with New Media Gaining Traction.
Jan 11 2024, Hong Kong, EternityX Marketing Technology and TongCheng Travel, China’s leading online travel agency, collaborated to publish a report titled “2024 Chinese Outbound Travel Demand Forecast ”. Serving as the exclusive partner of the report, EternityX provides valuable insights into Chinese outbound travel market trends in 2024 and delves deep into the behaviors and consumption patterns of middle- to high-income travelers.
The report reveals that Chinese travel desire has been rekindled, thanks to supportive policies and favorable conditions. Notably, Southeast Asia remains the top travel destination for Chinese travelers. The report also emphasizes that the cost-effectiveness of travel-related products and the safety of travel destinations are crucial factors that influence Chinese travel decisions.
At the same time, the report shows that middle- to high-income groups display a greater inclination towards rational decision-making and seek diverse experiences. They place great importance on the quality of travel products and destinations, as well as the cultural significance of their travel experiences. Additionally, they exhibit distinct preferences for travel styles and shopping habits. When it comes to the most popular platform for researching travel information, online travel agencies (OTAs) continue to dominate, with over 80% of users prioritizing platforms such as TongCheng Travel. Furthermore, social media platforms like Xiaohongshu have emerged as popular sources of travel inspiration and research among the younger generation, thanks to their seeding features and users’ authentic travel experience sharing.
The Outbound Travel Market is Making a Strong Comeback, with the Upcoming Chinese New Year Expected to be H1 Peak Season
With the implementation of streamlined visa policies and the recovery of international flights, travel enthusiasm has soared in 2024, particularly in first-tier and new first-tier cities, where travel intention has surpassed 70%, according to the report findings. It further indicates that 63.9% of respondents plan to travel abroad in 2024, with over 40% planning to take two or more outbound trips this year. Popular destinations such as Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan remain the top 3 travel destinations, followed by Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and Malaysia.
Among respondents who have travel plans, 46.8% prefer to travel during non-statutory holidays, and 21.6% prefer to travel during the summer holiday. For statutory holidays, the National Day Golden Week, Chinese New Year holiday, and May 1 Golden Week are the most popular periods for outbound travel. The percentages are 13.7%, 13.5%, and 11.3%, respectively. The Chinese New Year holiday is thus expected to be the peak for outbound travel in the first half of 2024.
Cost-effectiveness and Safety as Decisive Factors Influencing Travel Decisions, “Outbound Travel + Unique Activities ” is Set to Be the Next Travel Trend
Meanwhile, when selecting outbound travel products and destinations, consumers continue to prioritize cost and safety. Rather than the popularity and attractiveness of the destination, most users value the cost-effectiveness of travel products such as flights and hotels, as well as the safety of the destination.
Speaking of travel preferences, the trend of “Outbound Travel + Unique Activities ” is gaining momentum. The integration of oversea sightseeing/vacation and adventure with activities such as concerts, sports events, and medical and wellness travel is particularly popular. With the increased spending on concerts and performances, outbound travel with concerts and live event experiences has become a new way to travel among many young consumers.
Characteristics of Middle to High-income Group in Travel Decision-making: Emphasis on Value and Quality
The report shows that the outbound travel behavior and consumption patterns of middle to high-income groups exhibit unique characteristics. Firstly, this group of audience segments demonstrates a higher willingness to travel abroad. For example, among individuals with a monthly income of RMB 15K to 20K, a staggering 87.2% explicitly expressed plans for outbound travel, indicating a strong desire to travel abroad. Additionally, the middle to high-income groups are more likely to travel abroad multiple times compared to other income groups.
Specifically, middle to high-income groups consider both price and quality factors when it comes to travel decisions. They prioritize the quality of products and destinations rather than merely costs. Singapore emerges as their preferred destination, with more than 30% regarding it as an ideal choice for outbound travel. Furthermore, compared to other income groups, the middle to high-income groups place greater emphasis on the cultural aspect of the destinations, looking for high-quality and immersive travel experiences.
Secondly, middle to high-income groups also exhibit unique preferences in travel styles and consumption habits. They prefer luxury travel options, such as customized tours and private tours, to obtain more personalized and unique experiences. They also show a preference for long-haul trips, aiming to gain more enriching experiences through extended travel durations. In terms of shopping, middle to high-income earners clearly lean towards purchasing branded products and are more inclined to purchase high-end products such as designer bags, watches, and jewelry. At the same time, they still show a strong interest in purchasing local specialty foods and crafts.
OTA Platforms As Vital Source of Travel Information; Xiaohongshu to Shape Travel Decision-Making
The report indicates that over 80% of respondents prioritize OTA platforms and Xiaohongshu as their top travel information platforms. OTA platforms like TongCheng Travel are widely used among Chinese travellers to acquire travel-related information. Meanwhile, the popularity of Xiaohongshu continues to rise, making it one of the essential social media sites for Chinese to seek travel inspiration and guidance. Among different age groups, Xiaohongshu is widely used and recognised among individuals aged 24-30. For young people, the travel posts and guides on Xiaohongshu are influencing their travel consumption decisions.
In addition, newly-emerged media channels such as WeChat Mini Programs, WeChat Channels, Official Accounts, and live streaming platforms have also gained a certain level of popularity, offering more diverse travel information and authentic sharing. However, the report shows that only 5.5% of respondents indicated that they frequently purchase discounted travel products via travel-related live streaming, while 22.6% of respondents stated that they “never watch travel-related live streaming.”
In general, the momentum for outbound travel market growth is sufficient. Supported by the continuous optimization of visa policies, flights, and more, outbound travel demand has experienced a strong resurgence. Popular travel destinations such as Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia continue to lead the way. At the same time, more people opt for OTAs and media platforms such as Xiaohongshu to obtain outbound travel information. These trends not only reflect shifts in people’s travel preferences and how they look for information, but also provide important insights and directions for the development of the tourism industry. It can be anticipated that the outbound travel market in China will experience substantial growth momentum and present vast market opportunities in 2024.
* As the exclusive partner of this report, EternityX owns the complete data and the right to share the report.