Thanks to personal income rises and appreciation of the Renminbi, China had 120 million outbound visitors in 2015 and they spent $104.5 billion USD, a 12% and 16.7% increase compared with 2014, according to the China Tourism Research Institute.
At the government level, “One Belt One Road” policy, Chinese Framework for organizing the multinational economic development, is expected to expand tourism and to make the visa application process easier in countries along the Belt and Road.
So, what do Chinese people care about most when they go traveling and where do they get information about the hottest travel destinations? Not only do they take a look at where their peers are visiting through WeChat Moments, they also take a look at travel blogs through China’s biggest portal Baidu.
According to Baidu, Chinese people searched the keyword ‘travel’ 120 million times on the portal. Outbound travel search volume increased gradually with a 35.15% growth rate in 2015, faster than domestic travel search volume which is 17.7%.
Not so surprisingly, Chinese travelers are mobile centric. PC side annual search volume growth rate was only 3.93%, while mobile side annual growth rate was 95%. The mobile side share increased 50% by 2015, from 34% in the year 2014.
Here are five key takeaways from Baidu’s search (百度探星) from January to October in 2015:
1. Most Chinese travelers are in the 20s and have a bachelor degree
Younger tourists dominated the outbound tourism market. Outbound travelers aged between 20 and 29 were the largest outbound tour group. Outbound travel netizen are more highly educated compared to normal netizens.
As for their other tastes, Chinese travelers preferred Ferrari compared to other vehicle brands, liked to invest in foreign companies, preferred reality shows compared to other TV programs, and liked to spend their time on tea tasting. When searching travel related topic, they searched more about sightseeing than food.
2. Outbound tourism peak season
Chinese major holidays fall on Chinese New year (also known as Spring Festival) and Chinese National day, and those two time periods are peak time for Chinese travelers to travel overseas.
Peak time to visit South East Asia for Chinese tourists was the first quarter of the year, when it’s Chinese New year as well as a time when it’s not so hot in South East Asia. The peak time to visit Europe was the third quarter of the year, a beautiful season in Europe and includes Chinese National day or a ”Golden Week”, a 7-day holiday from October 1st to 7th.
Outbound travelers during Chinese New year, May Day, and Dragon Boat Festival respectively grew by 10%, 37% and 30%, according to China outbound tourism statistics.
3. Asia dominated China’s outbound tourism market
According to the Baidu search result on 2015, the top destination country was Taiwan and the top destination city was Tokyo.
According to China outbound tourism statistics in the first half year of 2015, South Korea ranked as the no. 1 destination country from January to May 2015. Nonetheless, the situation reversed when MERS broke out in Korea on May 20th.
The number of Chinese travelers to Germany was 1.7 times that of the same period of the previous year, mainly due to simplified visa application procedures. The number of mainland tourists to Hong Kong plunged drastically by over 50% due to the protest against mainland shoppers.
4. Male travelers love scenery, while female traveler love to shop
Male travelers preferred visiting North America, New Zealand and Australia, while female travelers preferred Europe, Japan and South Korea.
“We believe female travelers like to go shopping and enjoy the historic buildings in Europe, while male travelers like to go see natural scenery,” Jason Zheng, Key Account Manager, Luxury Brands at Baidu explained at Shanghai Fashion Web event hosted by VELVET.
According to China outbound tourism statistics in the first half year of 2015, 64% of tourists were women.
5. Different city has different preference of destinations
North East, South China, East China-based traveler preferred South America and Asia, while North China travelers preferred North America, Australia and New Zealand.
According to China Outbound statistics, Guangdong Province had the most outbound tourist sources, followed by Zhejiang and Shanghai.