Tourism market sees change

BEIJING: After more than a decade of rapid growth, the Chinese outbound travel market is seeing more Chinese travelers who are independent, sophisticated and eager to seek out new experiences, industry experts say.

Previously, many inexperienced Chinese tourists stuck to well-known sites, and it didn’t take a lot of expertise to win their business. But that, they said, is changing.

“The desire of seasoned Chinese travelers to experience authenticity and nature is getting bigger,” said Wolfgang Arlt, director of the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute.

“Consequently, for many service providers and destinations, the easy harvest of low hanging fruit seems to have come to an end.”

The number of Chinese outbound tourists reached a record in 2015 of 117 million, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

More of those tourists are independent travelers who are looking to “travel and live like locals”, a recent research report from COTRI said. It is important that foreign tourism marketers do not stereotype the Chinese market, said Alastair Morrison, former president of the International Tourism Studies Association and CEO of Belle Tourism International Consulting, based in Shanghai.

Morrison said he thinks that there is a lot of labelling of Chinese tourists, such as pigeonholing a particular age group as all liking to shop and demanding to eat Chinese food all the time.

“It is important to avoid stereotypes, because the outbound Chinese market is becoming more sophisticated, more mature and more segmented.

“I do not think foreign marketers should use stereotypes to portray the Chinese market in their advertising and promotion,” said Morrison.

A new tourism research report confirmed that the market is maturing as the motives for Chinese travelers change from sightseeing to lifestyle experiences. — China Daily/Asia News Network