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China Outbound Tourism Guide

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

It is no surprise that Europe is famous for China outbound tourism, and one of their favourite destinations. For example, in France alone, they spend more than $4 billion every year on tourism-related activities, so do not be surprised if you see a bunch of Asians posing for photos with Notre Dame or climbing up to Mont Saint Michel! Tour companies need the right strategy when targeting Chinese tourists. They should be aware of what Chinese tourists expect when they visit and how to please them. If you want your company’s tour packages to stand out, then this article is for you! Chinese tourism has skyrocketed in the last few decades so much that it is no surprise companies have been focusing on attracting more customers from China with tours tailored specifically for their needs.

China outbound tourism is the world’s largest tourism market

China is the world’s largest tourism market and with its growing middle class, it will continue to be for decades. To capture this potential growth opportunity, you need a location strategy that considers the Chinese travel landscape: how people choose their destination, where they go within a destination, and what motivates them to visit. Chinese tourists are one of the most popular tourist groups.

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In 2019, the contribution of Chinese travelers in global tourism has skyrocketed to the top position, with 254.6 billion U.S dollars being spent by these tourists on travel abroad! The volume of international travel by Chinese travelers grew from 10 million in 2000 to nearly 169.2 million outbound journeys in 2019. Almost half being male and about 60% female. China’s global share of outbound travel, which was only 1% in 2005, will now be estimated at one-fifth of world travel by 2023.

Only 11% of Chinese People have a passport, so I let you imagine the size of this market in 5years.

The rapid growth rate alone is no longer sufficient to explain the evolution of tourism out of China, which is closely linked to the social changes that the country has experienced over the past decade. In recent years China has made significant economic gains which have caused their currency to rise against other countries’ currencies like the US dollar or Euro. This then translates into a higher international purchasing power for these customers who now can afford goods at prices much lower than they would if they were priced in Yuan’s home country due to conversion rates between foreign exchange markets.

Types of Chinese travellers

  • Group Tours: The Chinese are known for traveling in groups, but this trend has been fading in recent years. First-time tourists are still more likely to pick a holiday in a group and spend more of their time shopping, while seasoned travelers are graduating to holidaying by themselves or with their families, with less of a focus on tour guides and duty-free stores, and often even hiring cars to get around.

  • FIT (Free Independent Travelers): More and more people are deciding to travel on their own, to gain independence and tailor their trip more precisely to their expectations. Chinese tourists are no longer content to remain tourist group members, jumping off the couch for a quick look and taking their selfies before hopping back on. More than 70% of them now wish to plan their own trip. Some may opt for a guide, but this is no longer the norm, however, if they decide to hire one, he should speak perfect Chinese or even be Chinese himself. Regardless of whether they hire a guide, Chinese tourists are the most likely to do logistical and cultural research before they leave. Traveling as part of package tour groups is seen by many Chinese these days as an opportunity lost – not something prestigious or necessary to achieve some level of international experience. The stereotypical image we have long had about typical Chinese tourists abroad may be changing soon because now more than ever they seem less inclined towards joining travel packages tours that make them jump from landmark to landmark with little time spent at each place. As China’s people continue gaining greater international experiences themselves, it seems like fewer find this type of traveling desirable anymore.

The number of Chinese outbound tourists has increased significantly, and they are utilizing the internet as a new way to find their destination. They have become aware that there is an abundance of choices, plan everything alone, as we said is being trendier now to “Second Wave” Chinese outbound travelers or tours, for more traditional Chinese tourists, through online travel agencies such as Expedia or Alibaba Travel Group.

The multiple-entry visa policy in most major destinations also provides these customers with the opportunity to adjust plans on the go without worrying about visas being voided due to changes made once arriving at their vacation spot. This freedom allows them more opportunities when customizing trips abroad, opening possibilities like renting apartments overseas via Airbnb or arranging hotels while still traveling from China – all backed by a strong renminbi which benefits high-end customers looking for luxury accommodations!

The forums for travellers

One of the best ways to find out what Chinese people are really looking for is to go to Chinese travel forums. The most popular of these forums for discussion based on travel at present is TuNiu. Even small pieces of information can be useful, as Chinese tourists are very difficult. For example, last year there was an unexpected increase of 3,500% in the number of tourists traveling to Morocco from China. Indeed, images have been published on Weibo showing groups of Chinese tourists taking photos in Morocco. Subsequently, there was a sudden influx of Chinese tourists into Morocco.

Chinese tourists are a gold mine for many tourisms industry companies. Chinese tourists often go abroad to popular tourist destinations such as Canada, France, the United States, U.K., South Korea, and Japan. However, Chinese tourism has taken another turn, as the Chinese are now more attracted to destinations like Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Morocco, and Vietnam. Similarly, there is also a reduction in group travel for individual travel, as Chinese tourists are more in search of adventures and unique experiences.

There are many Chinese travellers traveling or planning to travel to the world, and the vast majority of these visitors usually only visit a few places they are familiar with like Paris, Provence, and newly popular destinations in Asia, and so on. The Chinese have a rather limited vision of travel.

Generally, the more novice tends to try Hong Kong or Macau first; second-timers opt for travel in the Asian region to countries like Japan or Thailand, and the most experienced tourists are heading to different parts of Europe, Australia, and North America as well as a developing taste for the Saharan desert and safari tour. To reach this large demographic of travelers, one must understand the unique web surfing pattern of Chinese people.

Chinese Tourists preferences when traveling abroad

For the Chinese tourist, traveling is a never-ending journey of self-discovery. They are hyperconnected and share their photos on social media sites to find themselves or good places based on online reviews. Tourists want to keep in touch with loved ones back home while they travel but do not mind being disconnected for some time when experiencing new cultures abroad. Humans are always looking for something new and distinctive. The “new” Chinese tourists have more than their fair share of that desire, so they find themselves taking in the culture of different countries during vacations instead of just lounging on a beach all day long like stereotypical Americans. They have found out about art galleries and museums over time, which means there is no telling what will be next!

  • Museums

With the Chinese tourism market maturing, museums around the world are seeing an increase in visitors from China. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has noted a rise specifically regarding their visitor numbers from China since 2013 and it is not surprising why – with MoMa’s Mandarin audio guides, to serving traditional rice dishes at various food stations on-site that cater to different tastes found throughout Asia as well as Europe. MoMA is New York’s second most popular in-destination activity, and they have a large following on WeChat and Weibo. They surpassed 20,000 followers by the end of 2017 with “behind-the-scenes content” that shows their collections better than just photos or videos from an overview perspective. Carly McCloskey adds that interactive posts displaying how people can connect to museums around the world are also very successful for MoMa because it helps bring culture closer to those who may not be able to visit as often due to travel limitations or location barriers like distance.

  • Local life and culture

Chinese tourists like having a taste of what locals’ life is like. Doing your best to create connections with travelers and locals is very important. For instance, at a coffee bar when ordering coffee, we should order it then wait for the barmen’s little joke. The next step is translating what he says to our customers so that they get involved in the conversation too. Helping them understand what is going on around us is the highest service you can provide – especially if you have someone from China with strong cultural differences.

  • Luxury Shopping trips

People from first-tier cities in China are more likely to be interested in seeing nature and exploring a new place, however, there is still a significant amount of travelers from all over china seeking great deals on luxury items that are heavily taxed back home. As well, the Chinese are experiencing a different kind of luxury than the West is used to. When visiting old-world destinations, tourists may find that service and hardware are not as luxurious when compared with what they have back home in China. For example, Chinese tourists are searching for a more authentic, cultural experience when they travel. This often means wanting to stay in historical buildings and neighborhoods as well as staying near the center of town where you can really get that feeling. But hotel rooms in these areas usually tend to be smaller than average whereas Chinese consumers are expecting a larger more luxurious room. Well, you can’t have it both, but they are little things that can be done by hotels to create a more luxurious environment.

  • Chinese FIT are seeking Adventures

Adventure travel appeals to the Chinese market because they want off-the-beaten-path destinations that are unique and diverse. Tourism professionals have found adventure activities such as hiking, zip-lining, or even just walking through a forest can be enough for those looking for an exciting vacation without breaking the bank.

  • The Food

If you have ever visited China, you know how important food is in their culture. Well, this is reflected when abroad. Chinese travelers can be quite adventurous diners, but some considerations and modifications will still need to be made. Providing an entree, a course, plus dessert could sometimes fail with Chinese visitors as they typically want to taste more than just a few bites of food. Food is an important part of the Chinese tourism experience abroad – it is not uncommon for them to try new dishes or even raw foods in order to find their favorites while traveling outside China- so these insights are always helpful when catering specifically for this group.

  • Thoughtful Gestures.

The traditional Chinese culture is rooted in family, community, and harmony. To succeed with this demographic, you need more than just a stellar product or service; HNW clients want delightful surprises that will generate positive word of mouth for your brand. It could be an upgrade, a welcome gift, anything that can make them feel like special guests. Go the extra mile and provides a memorable stay.

  • Shopping

Chinese international travelers are quickly approaching the status of being a global tourism market’s high-spending group by nationality. However, as outbound consumers continue to become more discerning in their spending habits and spend less on designer goods overseas than what they do at home, it will be interesting if this stereotype is challenged soon. Wealthy Chinese travelers are no longer content with just acquiring designer labels. Instead, they are looking to show their refined taste by purchasing boutique-branded goods and more uniquely developed products on trips abroad. It’s become a trend among affluent travelers in China seeking prestige not through buying expensive clothes but instead through spending quality time exploring new cultures and lifestyles around the world (or at home).

Challenges: Understand your target Audience

Tourism experts in China are urging the government to invest more money into tourism and marketing campaigns, as they believe it will be good for both local businesses and their country’s economy. One of these things is a stronger focus on how Chinese tourists like to travel differently from Westerners; not just with language or cultural differences but different needs that can affect destination choices too. Larger investments would yield large returns, local economies have been growing faster than any other major region this year, which means big opportunities ahead if we try now.

The Chinese language is tough

  • Linked Services can find a translator who will faithfully translate your content, by the way, the content … must be original and above all attractive, so you must make sure to improve it continuously since customer trends are changing and their interests too. Be attentive and above all be interactive, they like that!

  • There is no worse than not answering a customer under the pretext of lack of time! And keep in mind that a satisfied customer will talk about you to 8 other people, while an unsatisfied one will to 24 other people! So be careful about this and say that certainly there are many hotels but yours is the best!

  • Your content must be clear and concise but above all original; the reader has eyes hurting every time he crosses the same phrases or the same expressions, he needs something that surprises takes him out of his routine everyday life …

Visa can be a hassle to obtain for Chinese tourists

For many, the process of getting a visa still poses difficulties. The situation is complicated and though changes are in progress to make it easier for Chinese tourists, there are some hurdles that need to be taken care of first such as parliamentary approval before introducing an e-visa system. Unfortunately, unless your countries government and china have a deal, there is nothing you can do about it.

Tailor your advertising to Chinese Tourists Needs & Demands

Tourists from coast provinces in the east make up a large percentage of outbound tourists. First-time travelers are not as influential because they tend to stay at home and do vacation activities while those who have traveled abroad before can be influenced more with marketing efforts.

Chinese tourist numbers reach 250 million, which is equivalent to Japan’s population; there are two groups: 18% or 37 million people that travel overseas for the first time every year and 82%, about 213 million, returning visitors, the majority being coastal Chinese residents coming from Guangdong Province, Fujian Province, Zhejiang province etcetera. This divide has implications on how tourism companies should tailor their messages accordingly since this group will influence decisions based on prior experience versus new.

The voice of a tourist has changed with the times. For many years, 30–49-year-olds were at the forefront of Chinese tourism because they benefited first from China’s economic boom and wanted to show off their status as higher earners. Now more growth is coming from different ends of the spectrum: younger people are demanding an individual adventure while older folks have become ‘silver’ tourists who want something new for them too!

It is no surprise that people’s expectations are not the same from Guangzhou where they are less likely to be in a hurry than Beijingers for example. This goes for those coming from Taipei or Hong Kong as well, though the degree of patience varies with each individual traveler. That is why we offer bespoke tours—to accommodate these differences and cater to everyone’s needs perfectly!

In general, they do not speak any other language than Mandarin or Cantonese, not even English. This requires the addition of the Chinese to your website or paper guides to better reach them.

Chinese OTA (Online travel agencies):

Chinese Online Travel Agencies (OTA) are critical for the professional of tourism. The industry has been disrupted by OTA companies like Ctrip, eLong and Qunar, which have grown to dominate China’s market in recent years. In 2016, they accounted for over 80% of online bookings with an estimated combined revenue of $7 billion USD. These three Chinese giants now offer travel services on more than 200 destinations worldwide – which is significantly larger than their American competitors such as Expedia or Priceline.

Build your e-reputation in china with Digital Marketing

Chinese Social networks

The Chinese are more connected than ever since the majority has access to the Internet and therefore to social networks like WeChat which is a must in China, but it must be present in all other social networks, namely, QQ, or Weibo, to have a wing that covers the sky of social networks in China.

Press Relation

Chinese people rely on online reviews to find new places. If you want your business in China, it is important that they come across well and establish themselves as the expert tourism company of choice for Chinese tourists abroad. One way is by using Mandarin content such as press releases distributed through platforms like Baidu which are a lot more popular than Google here!

SEO (Search engine optimization) on Baidu

No need to remind the social networks are not the same in China, the classics are even blocked … So, you must adapt to Chinese social networks, namely Baidu or WeChat the well-known app, by which you will be even closer to your visitors and interact more, in terms of SEO on Baidu you should know that it is not the same as on Google.

Mobile marketing in China

You are a marketing specialist, but you are a bit clumsy when it comes to “mobile marketing”?

Mobile marketing is the current trend in the digital world, so you must have a set of sub-strategies that will allow you to integrate mobile and segmenting a well-defined population, do not forget that 90% of the Chinese population uses its phone, so it will be a shortfall to not take advantage of this opportunity!

Everything is done by WeChat, whatever the transaction; pay a dish, pay a shirt in a store … all thanks to the QR code that makes the task easier, and which will facilitate yours if you know what mobile strategy you will use to encourage the Chinese tourist to spend his stay in your hotel!

Forums: Ctrip Tuniu, CY, LVmama, and Aoyou …

These are special mobile apps for Chinese people who want to travel. What are you waiting for?! Check into one of these famous travel agencies in China, (Ctrip you tell me … knowing that it holds ¼ of the market!) This is one way among others to attract tourists to spend a few nights in your hotel!

Collaborate with Chinese Travel & lifestyle KOL (Key opinion leader)

We say KOL for (Key Opinion Leader) they are people known in China by the content they publish, and we have an audience of their own, precisely generated by the large number of people who follow them, subscribe to their channel, or still share their content with other people, making their publications more viral on the Chinese Web.

As you can see, a KOL can help you to generate even more visitors thanks to people who follow him and like his content, you just have to choose the right KOL, that is to say, the one that represents the best your company, which has the same values as yours, otherwise you will fall into the trap of opting for the best-known KOL (with a million followers), but that will not generate you any lead simply because it does not target the same population as yours, and you will therefore invest money for nothing!

Avoid the Top Mistakes by Travel Agencies in China

  1. Underestimate the Size of the Chinese Market

  2. Underestimate the Competition

  3. You Lack Ambition

  4. Wrong Business Model

  5. Think you already have Competitive Advantage

  6. Do not geolocalize your Offer – Website – Pitch

  7. Don’t Invest in Online First

  8. You only Bet on Partnership & want easy solutions

  9. Not invest in Digital

  10. Not realizing how important Reputation is

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Contact us for more information about our services for professional of tourism on the Chinese market and find out more about our the companies that trusted us.

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1. We can adapt to any budget, and get amazing results starting from Zero.

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