Outbound Chinese travel accelerates towards pre-pandemic levels

Outbound Chinese travel accelerates towards pre-pandemic levels

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Recent analysis by travel intelligence specialists ForwardKeys revealed that outbound Chinese travel is steadily returning to pre-pandemic levels. In the primary quarter of 2024, the variety of issued flight tickets have proven a gradual improve, at the moment reaching simply 32% underneath Q1 2019 levels. As of April 3, bookings for the upcoming May vacation are solely 13% down when in comparison with the identical interval in 2019. 

The restoration of China’s outbound travel market can be highlighted within the newest Chinese shopper sentiment analysis by Dragon Trail International, which reveals that Chinese travellers at the moment are able to see the world with a renewed sense of journey. From 6-19 March 2024, Dragon Trail surveyed 1,015 mainland travellers about their travel plans, outbound locations, travel spending, and response to tourism advertising and marketing.


Intention to travel outbound has grown, with elevated consideration on long-haul locations

In whole, 63% of Dragon Trail’s survey respondents have already travelled outbound in 2024 or are planning to take action. This is considerably greater than final yr on the similar time, when solely 41% had outbound travel intentions. Only 10% of survey respondents mentioned they might undoubtedly not pursue outbound travel alternatives this yr – in comparison with 31% in April 2023.

Chinese travellers are additionally extra more likely to be planning intercontinental journeys, with 39.7% of respondents saying they plan to or need to go to a area exterior Asia in 2024. 26.7% plan to travel to Europe, the main long-haul area. South Korea was the preferred nation for 2024 outbound travel plans, adopted by conventional hotspots Thailand and Japan, and newly visa-free Singapore. For long-haul locations, France tops the listing, adopted by Iceland. Emerging as an surprising favorite in Dragon Trail’s August 2023 survey, Iceland stays within the prime 10 most coveted outbound locations, due to depictions of its pure phenomena reminiscent of aurora borealis and volcanos on Chinese social media and actuality TV. 

“Multimedia content has made the deepest impression on Chinese travellers, with video and live steaming emerging as the most eye-catching formats. Popular reality shows also succeed in familiarising Chinese audiences’ overseas destinations, as we can see specifically in the case of Iceland featuring in the TV show Divas Hit the Road,” shares Janice Meng, Dragon Trail’s Market Research Analyst.

Laid-back visa necessities attract Chinese travellers

Relaxed visa necessities play a major position in attracting Chinese vacationers. Examining the locations which have simplified visa necessities for Chinese travellers since 2023, reveals a 115% improve in travel from China to Kazakhstan, 18% progress to Singapore, and a near-complete restoration of travel to Russia and Malaysia within the first quarter of 2024.


“However, there’s more to it,” factors out Nancy Dai, China Market Analyst at ForwardKeys “Kazakhstan’s standout performance is driven by a 23% increase in seat capacity and the provision of affordable travel packages, allowing Chinese travellers to enjoy winter activities in a neighbouring country. This is particularly relevant as winter destinations are becoming increasingly popular.”

“Thailand’s performance has been below the average for Chinese outbound travel, likely due to the negative impact of a shooting incident in October last year. This suggests that while visa waivers are a major draw for Chinese travellers, other factors like safety concerns and flight connectivity also play a crucial role when they are choosing a holiday destination,” she provides. Thailand ranks 17th out of 20 outbound locations for security, in keeping with Dragon Trail’s survey, with 38% of Chinese vacationers perceiving it as “unsafe” to travel to.

For Chinese vacationers, the world appears to be getting safer

More than one yr after China’s reopening, fears concerning the security of the skin world are fading. Respondents’ notion of security improved for 10 out of 12 locations (together with Thailand), and travellers expressed a powerful need to expertise abroad travel now that the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. Hong Kong was voted the most secure outbound vacation spot, adopted by Singapore, Switzerland, and Australia. 


“It’s very promising to see that in the eyes of Chinese travellers, the world seems to be getting safer. Safety perceptions have improved for destinations around the world, and fears surrounding COVID-19 have dissipated, allowing Chinese travelers to once again seek out new landscapes, different cultures, and exotic cuisines,” feedback Sienna Parulis-Cook, Dragon Trail’s Director of Marketing and Communications.


ForwardKeys, Chinese vacationers, Janice Meng, Dragon Trail

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