ITB Berlin and IPK International unveil Chinese tourist travel preferences

Following in depth analysis and investigation of the travel habits and flows of Chinese tourists, ITB Berlin and IPK International have revealed that no travel market is growing faster than the Chinese.

After two decades of rapid and mostly double-digit growth, in recent years China has developed into one of the leading global source markets for foreign travel, with an impressive 80 per cent of the foreign trips made by the Chinese today being leisure trips.

However, the strong growth seen in the last few years was purely generated by short trips of up to one week, while the number of longer trips declined. This is the result of a special evaluation of the World Travel Monitor from IPK International that was commissioned by ITB Berlin.

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According to official statistics, the Chinese took 105 million foreign trips in 2014. This includes 41 million day-trips and shopping trips, mostly from southern China to Macau and Hong Kong. Of the remaining 64 million foreign trips with an overnight stay, 27.4 million also have Macau and Hong Kong as their destinations. Excluding these figures, the underlying number of international trips made by Chinese amounts to 36.6 million.

Calculations from the World Travel Monitor reveal that these 36.6 million foreign trips generated 171 million overnight stays in 2014. In comparison to 2007 the number of foreign trips has increased by 168 per cent, which represents an average annual growth rate of 16.5 per cent.

However, the number of nights spent abroad only grew by 27 per cent in total, equivalent to 3.5 per cent per year. This was due to a dramatic reduction in the length of foreign trips (the average length of a foreign trip nearly halved to 5.5 nights in 2014 due to a growth of 444 per cent in short international trips of up to three nights, which amounts to a 27 per cent increase per year).

With 80 per cent of the international trips being for leisure, the main growth drivers over the last seven years have been city trips, tours and event visits. Beach holidays have also won market share.

Business trips (16 per cent) increased by five per cent per year while visits to friends and relatives (four per cent) stagnated at nearly one million foreign trips.

Above-average growth was shown by trips within Asia and to North America in the last seven years. With 68 per cent, Asia dominates Chinese international tourism, while 18 per cent of Chinese visit Europe, nine per cent travel to Australia/Oceania and five per cent visit the rest of the world.

As for the top mode of transport, 80 per cent of Chinese travellers opt for flying, meanwhile, cruising’s market share is still low, standing at just one per cent, but this mode of transport soared by as much as 1,300 per cent over the period under review.

For Chinese travellers, the Internet is the most important booking platform for foreign trips. The number of bookings actually made on the Internet has risen by almost 1,300 per cent in the past seven years. Four out of five Chinese research and book online, selecting by far most often offers from travel agents and tour operators. Direct booking of accommodation and transport, with 17 per cent each, also have significant growth potential.

As for accommodation preferences, the share of overnight stays for first class hotels increased by 28 per cent annually and has risen to 55 per cent.