Saturday, July 13, 2024

‘Revenge travel’ soars, but where are Chinese tourists heading to?

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What happened:

The Year of the Dragon has brought with it a tourism and travel spending recovery, according to Alibaba’s financial subsidiary Ant Group’s latest report. Between February 9 and 12, the number of overseas transactions that took place was 7 percent higher than in 2019, and consumer spending came in at 82 percent of 2019’s level, according to payment platform Alipay.

Much of this spending was attributed to outbound travel by mainland Chinese tourists during Lunar New Year. Top destinations for overseas travel included Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, France, Australia and Canada, according to the payment app’s data.

Southeast Asian hubs Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore saw a combined 580 percent rise in overseas spending via Alipay compared to 2023.

Moreover, Alipay saw cross-border spending increase by 252 percent year on year, thanks to the use of e-wallets. Japan, South Korea, Macau, Thailand and Singapore were the most popular regions for spending using the international payment system Alipay+.

The Jing Take:

The Lunar New Year has proven to be a lucky period for several regions, many of which had welcomed large numbers of mainland Chinese tourists until the 2020 pandemic. Hong Kong saw over 1.25 million mainland Chinese visitors over the Spring Festival, and 1.35 million mainland Chinese visited Macau during the same period.

Following several years of pandemic lockdowns, analysts cite the rise of “revenge travel” as a major driver for mainland Chinese outbound tourism. Beyond neighboring Hong Kong and Macau, Southeast Asia has seen a 1,026 percent surge in Chinese visitors, according to the number of bookings made on Chinese travel site Ctrip.

The hospitality and food industries in these markets emerged as winners during this period. According to Alipay, Chinese tourists spent 70 percent more on food and drinks than in 2019 on everything from casual eateries to fine dining.

More trips are being made by young mainland Chinese. New generations of outbound travelers comprising affluent millennials and Gen Z will become increasingly influential in shaping the types of personalized and culturally authentic experiences Chinese tourists engage in abroad.

While more results from the Chinese New Year festive period will be released in the coming weeks, luxury brands, retailers, hospitality businesses and other industries will no doubt be preparing for the year ahead as they anticipate greater numbers of Chinese consumers.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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