Check out the New China Traveler Sentiment Report—WWW.DRAGONTRAIL.COM
Slowly, yet with a determined centimeter-by-centimeter pace, the Chinese market seems to be on an upward flight path toward a new normalcy and prosperity. This is the sense that INBOUND gets when distilling current anecdotal and word-of-mouth insights (i.e., Look for the market to open by the 2022 Labor Day Holiday, May 1st); key data points (some 1.1 billion—80 percent—of China’s inhabitants have received the COVID-19 virus shots, with some observers suggesting that the country has achieved herd immunity); and, now, the latest New China Traveler Sentiment Report from Dragon Trail Research.
In a summary perspective on the report, we read that, “With outbound travel still limited, seeing content about outbound destinations is the easiest way to “travel” internationally. The expression ‘want to travel’ was most frequently linked with the novelty of different cultures, fascinating scenery, variety of gastronomy, and laid-back island lifestyles. Many also mentioned comfort in seeing this content as it distracts them from daily anxieties.” And then, there is this: “81 percent of travelers felt positively when they saw content on outbound travel.”
Observations like the above—blended with reports such as the news that China has built a 5,000-room quarantine center in Guangzhou for overseas arrivals, with more centers under consideration for the future—show that the country is serious about providing visitors to and from China with a safe travel experience. Following are abbreviated versions of the key findings of the Dragon Trail report:
● Sentiment around “won’t travel” has reduced, replaced by sentiments around “travel cautiously.” Chinese travelers expressed frustration around safety concerns and restrictions, and were eager to find ways to relax from constant worrying.
● While only 1/3 of domestic travelers said they planned to travel cross-provincially, almost two-thirds intended to do so when asked where they would travel next. Local travelers primarily aggregated in coastal provinces, while cross-provincial travelers favored the Southwest, Northwest, Central areas and Beijing.
● Four fifths (4/5) of travelers preferred FIT, with around 1/5 of “spillover” into small group, private group, and customized travel.
● Nature and beach travel themes were hot, while sports and winter tourism stayed niche. Despite safety concerns, Chinese travelers would continue to visit typically crowded attractions such as landmarks, theme parks, zoos and museums.
● Over 1/2 of Chinese travelers preferred the border to be opened for inbound travelers during the upcoming Winter Olympics, but only around 1/3 agreed that quarantine-on-arrival in China should be relaxed. 1/3 preferred it to remain the same, and another 1/3 preferred even stricter quarantine.
● 4/5 of Chinese travelers responded favorably to outbound destination information. Many felt fascinated, enjoyed the novelty, and appreciated themes of gastronomy, beach and culture. Around 13 percent felt afraid due to the ongoing pandemic and wouldn’t be interested in information on outbound destinations until after the pandemic.
● To gauge when “after the pandemic” would be, we measured perception of prerequisites for outbound travel. Official travel advice and quarantine had the strongest impact. Destinations that report few confirmed cases or reached herd immunity would encourage travelers to return as well.
● Although many destinations have sped up vaccination roll-outs, many are still battling new cases. This survey found that number of new cases has a high correlation with safety perceptions.
The following table traces the improvement in their attitude/feeling for traveling from March to September 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding.
Finally, a graphic that explains it all:
A NOTE ON METHODOLOGY
Dragon Trail Research conducted a 19-question online survey on China’s travel sentiment for both domestic and outbound travel. The survey was fielded from August 16 to August 20, 2021 towards 4 tier-1 cities, 15 new tier-1 cities and 30 tier-2 cities. Respondents’ age was controlled to reflect the age range of Chinese travelers. A data cleaning process removed invalid and biased responses, resulting in a total of 1,062 completed responses.