Chinese travellers display a strong desire to resume travel this year, with most preferring to travel domestically further afield due to uncertainty around the pandemic overseas, according to a recent Ctrip survey.
The 2H2020 Travel Sentiment Survey by Ctrip’s Tourism Big Data Lab, which polled several thousand Ctrip.com users hailing from more than 50 cities across China, showed that 82.6 per cent of respondents are keen to travel in 2H2020. Of these, 80 per cent signalled preference for longer-distance travel between provinces.
Similarly, 80.2 per cent of participants in a recent study by the China Tourism Academy (CTA) said they intend to travel in 3Q2020, marking a recovery of approximately 90 per cent compared to 2019 figures.
Ctrip’s Tourism Big Data Lab researcher Peng Liang said in a press release that pent-up market demand in 1H2020 will be progressively released in 2H2020, should the pandemic die out and cross-province travel open up. According to CTA, the travel market is likely to have a U-shaped recovery this year.
This bodes well for tourism companies and employees, especially as summer vacation and holidays such as Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day near.
Domestic travel reigns supreme
More than half of respondents (57.1 per cent) indicated that they would contemplate going on more domestic trips if outbound travel does not recover in the rest of 2020.
In line with summer holidays and the National Day holiday, results indicated that the peak travel periods will be July, October and August; with 43.1 per cent, 42.6 per cent and 41.9 per cent of respondents preferring these months, respectively.
Western provinces and Hainan province (which is near Hong Kong and Macau) are expected to become choice destinations. In fact, Yunnan, Hainan and Sichuan emerged as the top three most popular destinations. They were followed by – in order of popularity – Xinjiang, Tibet, Shaanxi, Guizhou, Shanghai, Chongqing, Beijing, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hunan, Guangdong and Shandong.
For domestic travel, particularly longer-distance travel within the country, most travellers favoured FIT trips (61.5 per cent) or group tours (51.6 per cent). Meanwhile, 25.6 per cent and 19.4 per cent of respondents indicated interest in customised tours and self-drive trips, respectively.
These trip type preferences were also reflected in Ctrip’s recent bookings, with the three most popular product types being FIT, intra-province group travel, and customised tours. Concurrently, car rental numbers were shown to have recovered to 2019 levels.
Meanwhile, a significantly higher proportion of participants in the CTA study indicated interest in self-drive trips (40 per cent), with the same percentage indicating a preference for trips to scenic destinations.
Departments of cultural and tourism across various destinations in China have also been pushing for plans to revive cross-province group tours, said a spokesperson from the CTA. These plans are set to be rolled out once market conditions are favourable.
Most to spend within RMB 5,000 to 10,000 per trip
Interestingly, a significant majority (70 per cent) of respondents said they intended to increase or maintain their travel expenditure.
Nearly 40 per cent of respondents indicated that they would set aside RMB5,000 (US$711) to RMB10,000 per trip, making it the most popular travel budget range in the survey. This was followed by a budget of more than RMB10,000 a trip, the choice of approximately 30 per cent of respondents.
Meanwhile, around three per cent of respondents said they would be willing to fork out RMB50,000 or more per trip.
OTAs most popular booking channel
While OTAs such as Ctrip were the most popular travel booking channel among survey respondents (45.3 per cent said they would make bookings via OTAs), 43 per cent of respondents said they would make travel reservations through traditional brick-and-mortar agencies.
Meanwhile, booking via offline retail presence of OTAs has emerged as a significant trend in recent years. This was reflected in the survey, with 41.9 per cent of respondents saying they would book through this channel.