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Chinese outbound travel rebound to continue in 2024 but gaming spending could be lower: Research

The post-pandemic resurgence in Chinese outbound travel is expected in 2024, with the most popular destinations in Asia including many countries and cities with developed gaming industries. However, a researcher warns that changing consumer behaviors among Chinese travelers could signify a reduction in gaming spending.

The recently released ‘Chinese Traveler Sentiment Report Spring 2024’, conducted by Dragon Trail, offers some insights into the evolving landscape of Chinese outbound travel.

As has been widely discussed, with the world gradually recovering from the pandemic’s grip, China’s outbound tourism market is witnessing a resurgence, albeit with notable transformations in traveler preferences and behavior.

The report, based on a survey of 1,015 mainland Chinese travelers conducted between March 6th and 19th, 2024, sheds light on various aspects of travel planning and preferences.

In 2024, the Chinese overseas tourism market is expected to reach around 80 percent of pre-COVID levels, with expectations for 130 million outbound trips.

Dragon Trail notably reveals a marked increase in Chinese travelers’ intention to venture abroad compared to the previous year. In 2024, approximately 63 percent of respondents either have already traveled or plan to travel outbound, a significant uptick from the previous year’s figures.

Some 18 percent of respondents revealed that they have already secured bookings for outbound trips, and another 40 percent plan to travel internationally, though without confirmed bookings.

Chinese are starting to travel abroad again in greater numbers, however, the travel behavior and demand have changed in many ways.”

Wolfgang Georg Arlt

For those who have finalized their travel plans for the latter half of 2024, a significant 94 percent intend to embark on multi-destination journeys. The majority, comprising approximately 74 percent of travelers, are poised to explore diverse corners of Asia, while Europe retains its allure for 16 percent of respondents.

Notably, peak travel periods are anticipated in May, July, and October, coinciding with China’s celebrated “Golden Week” holidays.

Of the 10 countries that represented the bulk of outbound destinations already booked for travel by Chinese travelers, five were countries or regions with integrated resorts, including Macau, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia, which represented, respectively, 20 percent, 15.5 percent, 6.6 percent, 6.1 percent and 5.5 percent.

Chinese outbound travel rebound to continue in 2024 but gaming spending could be lower: Research

In comments to AGB, the CEO of the COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, Professor Wolfgang Georg Arlt, commented that the results of this survey were similar to other research conducted by COTRI Analytics and other companies and organizations following the development of China’s outbound tourism source market.

However, the researcher warned that while the surge in outbound travel numbers presents a positive outlook, the report underscores a shifting paradigm in tourism behavior, as traditional sightseeing and shopping package tours are waning in favor of a desire for authentic, local experiences epitomized by the “Global Tourism 2.0.” concept.

Consequently, the recovery of Chinese gaming tourism may not rebound as swiftly or robustly as anticipated, with the analyst telling AGB that tourism providers in the region must adapt by crafting tailored offerings, particularly targeting the Gen Z segment of the market.

“Chinese are starting to travel abroad again in greater numbers, however, the travel behavior and demand have changed in many ways, including a preference for individual over group travel and a stronger focus on value for money. Shopping has moved down to position six in the list of preferred activities, whereas different forms of direct contact with the host community and their culture including food find more interest,” Arlt told AGB.

Still wanting to spend

Despite a discernible emphasis on value for money, Chinese travelers exhibit a willingness to spend, particularly on shopping. The survey reveals that while travelers seek economical options, they are not hesitant to indulge in shopping experiences during their trips abroad.

Chinese Outbound Travel, rebound to continue in 2024 but gaming spending could be lower

There is also a shifting perception in regards to safety, with Chinese travelers now more confident in their security, demonstrated in safety ratings continuing to improve for nearly all destinations included in the survey.

Hong Kong and Singapore are seen as the safest, followed by Switzerland and Australia, while perceptions of safety in Japan were hit by the Fukushima waste water release last summer.

In the realm of destination marketing, social media platforms like Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) have assumed heightened significance as sources of inspiration and information for Chinese travelers.

The same research advised brands to capitalize on the platform’s influence by integrating it into their marketing strategies.

This can be particularly effective for travel groups such as Trip.com, focusing on the allure of exotic sights, flavors, and cultures of the international destinations. Respondents highlight the enriching experiences offered by overseas destinations, emphasizing the significance of diverse scenery, cultural immersion, and culinary exploration in broadening horizons.

The report also underscores changing travel patterns, with a notable increase in plans to explore destinations beyond Asia. While Asian destinations remain popular, Europe has emerged as a favored choice for a growing number of travelers, reflecting evolving preferences for long-haul journeys.

Nelson Moura
Nelson Mourahttp://agbrief.com
Editor and reporter with 10 years of experience in Greater China, namely Taiwan and Macau, in printed and online media, with a focus on finance, gaming, politics, crime, business and social issues.

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