MAINLAND Chinese are more than ready to travel to the international destinations, but is the Philippines ready to give them the fun they want?
According to the Chinese Traveler Sentiment Report by Dragon Trail Research in December 2022, more than half of respondents (52 percent of those surveyed) “would travel outside China within one year of reopening, and 84 percent would plan a trip within two years of reopening. However, 16 percent of respondents state that they would not travel outside mainland China.” The survey also noted women were more likely to make travel plans compared to men, as soon as restrictions are relaxed. “Pent-up demand is real, and growing, and the travel industry should get ready,” the report added.
While Asian destinations will certainly be the first to benefit from the recovery of the Chinese outbound travel market, the Philippines failed to make the top 10 list. “Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Thailand, and South Korea are at the top of Chinese travelers’ wish-lists, and should expect to welcome the first wave of Chinese visitors when borders reopen for leisure travel. At the same time, beach and sea destinations are preferred by 51.8 percent of survey respondents, creating more opportunities for Southeast Asian destinations,” said the report. The rest of the destinations Chinese travelers prefer are France, Taiwan, the Maldives, Singapore, and Australia.
The Philippines hopes to attract more Chinese tourists as it considers issuing easier visa rules. In 2019, there were 1.74 million Chinese tourists in the Philippines, accounting for 21 percent of the total 8.26-million international travelers. In 2022, there were 39,627 tourists from China, of the total 2.65-million arrivals.
Social media as source for travel info
A majority of Chinese travelers source information on travel destinations from Chinese social media (69 percent), followed by travel web sites and online travel agencies (49 percent), and key opinion leaders and travel blogs (45 percent). As such, “Digital channels, media buy, and influencers will all be key to marketing in the recovery period,” the report recommended.
The survey also indicated the top factors how Chinese travelers decide on tourist products and destinations such as pricing (64 percent), health and safety (63 percent), and convenience (60 percent), showing no change since Dragon Trail’s March 2022 survey.
Mainland Chinese travelers cite local food (60.8 percent) and the local life (56.7 percent) as reasons for traveling abroad, while visiting landmarks such as museums and iconic architecture still ranks high. “Bringing these experiences to Chinese travelers should be part of marketing and product development work.”
The survey was conducted between November 7 and 20, 2022 of 1,003 mainland Chinese travelers, from Millennials to senior citizens, 49 percent of whom are married with children, while 28 percent are single. The report offers tourism stakeholders insights to be able to adapt their marketing strategies to satisfy the former’s needs.
US is ‘unsafe’ destination
The report also recommended the adoption of sustainable practices as a way to attract more Chinese tourists. “More than 88 percent of Chinese travelers consider their impact on local environments and communities when traveling. Their intentions for taking more sustainable trips offer insights into what initiatives will get the best response. Hotels need to go greener. Attractions should stress being animal-friendly. Tour operators should find ways to help visitors give back.”
Chinese travelers are also anxious about their safety in a number of destinations. “When assessing 15 outbound destinations around the world, we can see that Chinese travelers are now less likely to categorize these destinations as ‘unsafe.’” The United States tops the list of destinations Chinese travelers consider unsafe, at 67 percent; followed by the United Kingdom (36 percent); Israel (35 percent); Canada and Japan (34 percent); and France (30 percent), among others. On the other hand, Hong Kong (47 percent) and Singapore (38 percent) are deemed the safest destinations.
Since the Covid pandemic, several incidents of assault against Asians have been recorded in the US, with perpetrators blaming mainly the Chinese for the spread of the virus.
Beijing has opened the doors to international travel, after it suddenly quit its stringent Covid lockdown measures in December. A number of governments, however, have decided to impose additional testing protocols on Chinese tourists. (See, “WTTC hits ‘knee-jerk’ travel rules on Chinese travelers,” in the BusinessMirror, January 24, 2023.)