⦁ It will be two years before China outbound recovers. As reported by China Travel News, a study by Oliver Wyman tells us that, even though the desire for travel abroad is strong among Chinese consumers, the country’s outbound leisure travel won’t return to pre COVID-19 levels no sooner than the second quarter of 2023.
While Chinese travelers are eager, their outbound leisure travel will not be back to pre-COVID levels until the second quarter of 2023 at best, according to a new study from consulting firm Oliver Wyman.
Quarantine measures are the key roadblock for most travelers, which continues to make Hainan Island, China’s rising duty-free shopping hub, one of the most popular leisure destinations, which is well known for its analyses of the Chinese economy, and which has global offices in 60 locations, including Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
One reason underpinning the study is what, China, while it has been forceful in its containment of the global pandemic brought on by COVID-19, has kept fairly strict quarantine measures in place, restricting the flow of international air traffic to and from China.
Jacques Penhirin, a partner at Oliver Wyman, told China Travel News, “Chinese consumers are looking forward to outbound travel, but border re-openings alone are not enough to convince them to travel again. “What stands in the way are quarantine requirements. No Chinese leisure travelers are interested in international travel with the current 14 to 28 days quarantine requirements. Having no quarantine is critical for travelers, which is only expected to happen when China and other major countries complete their mass vaccination programs.”
The Oliver Wyman study is based on the firm’s Pandemic Navigator, an AI-enabled tool, and consumer sentiment survey conducted in late March 2021. According to the survey, Hong Kong remains the most desired destination on travelers’ wish lists, with 41 percent of the respondents seeing the city as one of their top destinations once the border reopens.
“Hong Kong is a key destination to visit for Chinese travelers, given the city is expected to open its borders without quarantine requirements on both sides much earlier than the rest of the world,” said Imke Wouters, a partner at Oliver Wyman, noting that “our study predicts some Southeast Asian countries are going to see a full recovery as early as the beginning of 2023. That gives Hong Kong a short window of opportunity to re-establish its tourism and attract tourists from the mainland, specifically from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the end of 2022.”
Under such circumstances, short-haul travel is preferred among Chinese travelers, while long-haul destinations such as Europe and the U.S. are unlikely to see a full recovery until mid-2023 earliest, according to the study.
Group tours, once a staple for Chinese travelers, are losing their attraction as social distancing is one of the concerns of travelers. Nearly 70 percent of the survey respondents in the consumer sentiment survey said they would prefer making their own travel plans rather than joining group tours, while only 40 percent of the respondents were willing to do so pre-COVID.
Said Penhirin: “We estimate approximately USD 200 billion consumer spend trapped in China to be readily unleashed once international travel resumes. Asia is likely to see Chinese tourists first when borders reopen, but the numbers expected will still be far from a full recovery. We anticipate the vaccine rollout to be accelerated to expedite the pace of tourism worldwide.”
⦁ The May Day Holiday finally offered Chinese people the chance to “scratch their travel itch,” according to the CGTN (China Global Television Network, which is owned by the Chinese state media China Central Television) after over a year of staycation because of COVID-19 initially and later government recommendations against unnecessary trips. Reporting just as the holiday period started, CGTN saId the COVID outbreak has changed how holidaymakers are enjoying scenic spots and popular landmarks, with a growing number opting to book time slots in advance, choosing self-drive tours and avoiding the travel rush.
The five-day break, which began on May 1, saw an influx of travelers similar to pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 265 million passenger trips expected to be made. On day one of the public holiday, some 18 million passenger trips were made on the railway alone, inching close to 2019 figures.
And while COVID-19 is in the rear-view mirror in China, the country is still on high alert. Nowhere is this visible than in the tourism industry which is trying to balance between responding to months of pent-up demand for travel and ensuring the safety of holidaymakers.
Over the years, photos of seas of people swarming scenic spots during national holidays and blocking any view within sight have gone viral, causing a buzz on social media. But
In previous years, holiday news coverage often broadcast scenes of huge crowds throughout the country. But this year, attractions across the country adopted measures to prevent overcrowding, including operating on appointment-only basis, extending operating hours into the night and capping the number of visitors—even at the Great Wall, a popular destination among holidaymakers.
To meet the growing demand for travel during the holiday, additional trains were put into service. On May 1, 11,416 passenger trains were set to run, including 1,624 extra trains. On Monday, it was estimated that 10,739 passenger trains, including 1,081 additional ones, that carried travelers across the length and breadth of the country.
⦁ People in their fifties have become a key factor in Chinese travel trends: According to China Daily, a report based on the results of a recent survey says that seniors in their 50s have become the major force in personal tourism consumption in China, with over 23.9 percent of them reporting personal tourism expenditures exceeding 5,000 yuan ($772.7) last year, a recent survey said.
According to a “green book” on China’s tourism development analysis and forecast in 2020 to 2021 which was jointly released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Social Sciences Academic Press just prior to the May Day holiday, Chinese people born in the 1960s spent the most in personal tourism, while those born in the 1980s are the main consumers in family tourism, chinanews.com reported.
Data from a nationwide online survey showed that more than 23.9 percent of Chinese people born in the 1960s spent more than 5,000 yuan ($713 last year in personal tourism, while the data for people born in the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s are 20.8, 23.8, 19.4, and 7.9 percent, respectively. Following is how that percentage compares to other over-50 groups.
—The report said 17.3 percent of people born in the 1960s spent more than 8,000 yuan ($1,236) in 2020, with 10.8, 5.8, and 3.3 percent of people in the same age group spent more than 10,000 yuan ($1,544) 20,000 yuan ($3,089) and 40,000 yuan ($6,180) on personal tourism last year.
—Compared with other age groups, people born in the 1960s, or in their 50s, have more wealth and leisure time, makes them the main force of personal tourism, the report said.
—People born in the 1980s spent the most in family tourism, as more than 46 percent of survey participants of this age group spent more than 5,000 yuan ($773) on family travel in 2020, and 23.9 percent of them spent more than 10,000 ($1,544) yuan last year, according to the report.