SHANGHAI, 2 October 2017: China’s Golden Week’s holiday season got underway at the weekend, promising a major boost for destinations in Asia that are now almost totally reliant on the Chinese holiday makers to keep their tourist industries afloat.
But a report by Reuters, Sunday, noted that a cooling economy is keeping more Chinese tourists closer to home than in previous holiday seasons.
Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand are likely to be the losers when the Golden Week’s tourists data comes under review.
Chinese travellers – who spent USD261 billion last year – are staying closer to home, with what experts call “staycations” a trend that boosts domestic travel.
Costs are a consideration in the decision to stay home, but Chinese tourists are likely to complain about jet lag and language barriers as contributing factors.
Tourism boards, worldwide, have still lots of ground to cover to improve their adoption of the Chinese language. Many still do not have Chinese language websites and holiday destination information is often just in English.
Around 710 million Chinese will opt for domestic holidays according to estimates from China’s biggest tour specialist, Ctrip.com International.
It estimates that around 6 million will travel abroad during Golden Week.
Asia analyst Tong Yiling from BMI Research told Reuters that the domestic tourism sector has seen a “rapid improvement” in competitiveness, with improved transport links and a big investment in tourist sites.
Better marketing of local travel destinations and the impact of tighter capital controls to deter Chinese from taking money abroad were also having an effect.
Data has shown China’s outbound tourism spending is still growing, but the growth rate much slower than in the past.
A report from CLSA in July estimated that Chinese tourists would spend US$429 billion overseas by 2021. But outbound travel was up just over 5%, last year, down from close to 30% growth in 2010, according to BMI Research.
“Compared with outbound travel, domestic travel has been greater in size and growth rate for the first several months of this year,” said Ctrip.
In favour of overseas travel, Low-cost airlines serving China from Asian destinations are able to offer travel at a lower cost than domestic air fares. Also hotel accommodation in most Asian destinations is much lower than the rates offered by hotels in China.
Golden Week will see record trips to the popular destinations in Asia, particularly Thailand. Singapore and Vietnam are also expected to increase their travel bookings from China this week.
Bali stands to lose bookings due to the imminent threat of a volcanic eruption at Mount Agung.