Individual travel taking over from groups

Chinese group and package travel is falling as independent travel becomes the norm.

The latest data from the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute says that while group travel will continue to remain a feature of the Chinese outbound travel market as increasing numbers of lower-tier city residents take their first overseas trips, growth in package tours is stagnating or even decreasing.

Independent travel is seen in many countries as an activity for budget tourists, in China the opposite is true, since it is more experienced and typically wealthier people who travel as independent travlellers. To gain prestige, more experienced Chinese outbound travellers look to reaching destinations that are more off the beaten track, which are considered more distinguished than those crowded with other Chinese visiting in groups. The trend is being further fuelled by the increasing ease and freedom for outbound tourism from China, facilitated by numerous improvements in travel-related apps and other relevant software, as well as increasingly simplified visa restrictions for Chinese nationals.

Flight data from ForwardKeys used by the first China Outbound Travel Pulse video revealed that in July and August 2017, more than one-third of Chinese independent travellers to have travelled by plane chose to fly to Japan, Thailand or the USA.

In comparison to 2016, the fastest-growing destinations were: Canada, Australia, the UAE, Malaysia, the Czech Republic and Spain.

The first episode of the China Outbound Travel Pulse Series features interviews with outbound travellers in Beijing airport – providing first-hand insight into market trends – as well as a topical overlook of the subject to provide context.