Here’s Jing Travel’s weekly guide to stories that give insight into Chinese travel trends and how they affect the industry’s main players.
High school seniors sat national college entrance exams over the Dragon Boat Festival (June 7) and, as such, were unrepresented in the record 6 million domestic trips that took place during that holiday. But, they appear to have made up for lost time in recent weeks. Ctrip data shows graduation-related travel has jumped 500 percent from last year. Relaxation and wellness breaks are generally on the rise in China, and the restorative climes of Hainan and Xiamen ranked highly with recent graduates. This trend also shows an increased willingness for Chinese travelers to take short, last minute, trips.
BERGDORF + ALIPAY
A trip to Bergdorf Goodman is essential for many Chinese tourists visiting New York, and purchases at the iconic Fifth Avenue store can now be made with Alipay. The Alipay rollout also took place at 43 flagship Neiman Marcus locations and 24 Neiman Marcus Last Call stores, and plans are afoot to introduce the payment method online later this year. A Nielsen report showed 60 percent of overseas businesses that adopted Alipay registered revenue growth, since Chinese travelers like the familiarity of Alipay and also prefer to avoid high transaction fees with foreign credit cards. The Dallas-based luxury retailer will also look to use Alipay’s ‘Discover’ feature to help them connect Chinese travelers with special promotions.
Tanzania’s drive to attract Chinese visitors continued this week with Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism stressing the need for Chinese language learning within the industry. Tanzania is hoping to capitalize on the growing popularity of natural scenery travel in China. The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) is holding tourism road shows in four Chinese cities this June. This follows the visit of senior tourism officials to China in late 2018. Around 30,000 Chinese visited the East African country in 2017 and increasing this number is central to the government’s strategy of reaching 2 million tourists by 2020.
June 12 to 14 in Shanghai, the IAAPA Expo Asia showcased emerging trends in China’s burgeoning amusement park market. Aside from announcements regarding upcoming park developments and ride releases, the expo highlighted the importance of “artainment” — the convergence of art and entertainment through digital experiences. For attractions looking to boost attendance and engagement, incorporating new technologies such as VR, AR, and immersive installations has become increasingly fundamental. Amusement parks are growing in popularity with Chinese, both domestically and on trips abroad. Shanghai Disneyland and Chimelong Ocean Kingdom both placed in the world’s top 10 for attendance and saw year-on-year growth of 7.3 and 10.6 percent, respectively.
As the trade war deepens, U.S. universities brace for a downturn in Chinese enrolment. The 360,000 Chinese students in America constitute a third of the total international student body (not counting a large number of Chinese students in U.S. high schools) and are a lucrative component of most universities financial models. Delays incurred by increasingly restrictive visa procedures negatively impacted enrolment for 80 percent of universities in a recent survey. Chinese students contribute an estimated $12 billion to the U.S economy across a range of sectors, but last year’s 3.6 percent growth in Chinese spending — the slowest in a decade — gives cause for concern.