A new style of Chinese tourist arrives on the scene

More adventurous and better-off Chinese tourists are eschewing regular package deals and demanding customized tours that include exclusive visits to film locations, Michelin-star restaurants, ancient sites off the beaten track, and prestigious sporting events.

According to joint research by ForwardKeys and the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI), China outbound bookings for the summer are ahead 13.5%. The demand for customized travel showed a 300% growth in 2017 and this year there are currently more than120,000 new orders a month, representing a market share of almost 15%.

Europe – and particularly the UK – are the destinations most favored by the new customized travelers from China.

The new customized Chinese travelers tend to be younger than average, “money-rich and time-poor”. They’re prepared to pay more than average for the chance, for instance, to stay in a glass igloo in Finland or propose to their partner in front of the Eiffel Tower. According to the Chinese travel services provider, Ctrip, it’s a sector in which expenditure is typically around US$400/ person/ day, that’s set to grow further.

Until recently, mass-market package tour groups from China boosted a destination’s visitor numbers, but their spending was limited to famous landmarks during high seasons. Ctrip says the trend is to make customized travel an “affordable luxury”, available to more Chinese.

Professor Dr Wolfgang Georg Arlt, COTRI founder, said: “Europe is a perfect example of destinations that have great potential to fulfill the demand for customized travel from China, owing to its rich history and broad cultural diversity.

“Visas, entry tickets and transport can be difficult for individual travelers to arrange by themselves and even more so in the face of language barriers. The time difference and varied ways of communicating can present complications to those travelers who are making their own arrangements. Accordingly, there is a strong demand for travel professionals to provide extensive travel services.”

ForwardKeys CEO and co-founder, Olivier Jager, concluded: “There is a bright future for organizations involved in Chinse travel to Europe. As a long-haul destination, Europe has the largest market share of Chinese outbound travel, receiving 9.3% of the market. Over six million Chinese citizens visited Europe as their first stop in 2017; and our figures show more growth this year.”