Chinese millennials are bucking previous travel behaviours

Stephanie Yip 19 July 2017 NEWS

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Priorities are changing, with many Chinese tourists preferring leisure, adventure and eco-tourism over shopping.

Hotel booking agent Hotels.com has released its annual Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) report, revealing the latest travel habits by Chinese mainlanders, with particular attention on how millennials are changing the face of the nation’s tourist habits.

Overall, the report found that Chinese travellers, no matter their age, are embracing the “more” mentality. They’re travelling more, spending more time travelling, travelling to more locations, having more exotic experiences and, inevitably, spending more.

Though, not on shopping.

Spending more

For the first time in the report’s five-year history, shopping is not the number one reason for international travel, with only 33% of those interviewed in 2016 expressing an interest in shopping compared to 68% in 2015. This drops its ranking as a reason to travel internationally from number one to number four.

Toppling shopping from number one were leisure activities including dining (55%), sightseeing (53%) and rest and relaxation (41%).

Eco-tourism also saw a 12% increase, coming up fifth on the list.

Interestingly, the least popular reasons for travel were sports and taking pictures for social media.

Of the various age groups, millennials are the biggest spenders, dedicating a whopping 35% of their income on travel compared to travellers born in the 60s, 70s and 80s, who all dedicated less than 30% of their income.

The report predicts spending on international travel will increase by 10% in the next 12 months, with much of that increase dedicated to more dining and entertainment experiences.

Travelling more and to more locations

The number of trips taken as well as the length of these trips both increased with travellers taking 3.9 international journeys in 2016 compared to 3.4 the previous year while days per trip increased from 5 to 7 days.

They’re using these extra days to travel to more locations, with over 40% visiting two cities while away and 80% admitting they wouldn’t spend all their time in one city.

Having more exotic experiences

While Australia is still one of the top destinations for Chinese travellers, seeing a 17% increase in visitors in 2016 compared to 2015, the Chinese are spreading their wings to discover more exotic lands, with increased travel to Europe, the US, South America and Central America and decreased travel to Japan and South Korea.

For post-90s millennials, Australia is still viewed as an exotic destination that offers experiences they can’t find at home. Many nominate beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, farms and the outback and quokkas on Rottnest Island as must-do experiences.

Free independent travel is also on the rise, particularly for millennials, with many booking theme tours (33%) or backpacking (26%) and less people opting for the private luxury tour (23%), which is still popular among older age groups.

Hotel habits are also changing in a similar manner. While overall Chinese travellers still prefer a hotel over any other accommodation, millennials are embracing the sharing community and budget stays with 29% of them staying in vacation rentals, apartments or hostels in the past year.

Comfort is by far the highest priority when it comes to hotels, with location and cost less of a consideration. Part of this comfort seems to be access to Wi-Fi, with 25% off travellers calling it out as their top must-have facility. With 98% saying they stay in touch with family and friends while travelling, it’s easy to see why.

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