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Bigger, Better, Bolder, Beyond – Chinese travelers demand more than ever, reveals research

July 20, 2017 OTA News No Comments Email Email

The latest Chinese International Travel Monitor research from™ reveals that Chinese travelers have entered a new phase in their evolution. More educated and increasingly sophisticated in their tastes and expectations, they want more of everything – more time travelling, more locations and more exotic experiences.

The rise of the Chinese ’more generation’ is a key finding in’s sixth annual Chinese International Travel Monitor report, which identified:

  • Chinese travelers of all age groups are travelling more often and for longer; the number of trips and number of days per trip increased in the past year from 3 to 4 and from 5 to 7 days, respectively.
  • Chinese travelers visit multiple cities per trip, with over 80 per cent saying they would not just stay in a single city.
  • Chinese travelers spent an average of 28 per cent of their income on international travel in 2016, up 3 per cent on the year before. 90s millennials being the biggest spenders, allocating 35 per cent of their income to travel.
  • Even Chinese travelers born in the 1960s are increasingly influenced by free and easy travel trends, choosing much more independent styles of international travel, with 21 per cent of those born in the 1960s saying that they will go backpacking in the future.

The research also identified that, while Chinese travelers still prefer to travel within Asia Pacific (82 per cent have travelled to another country within the region in the past 12 months) and Hong Kong is still their favourite city to travel to in all of APAC (34 per cent have travelled to the city in the past 12 months), long-haul trips to Europe and America have increased in popularity. The number of Chinese travelers visiting these destinations in the past 12 months increased by 25 per cent (Europe) and 11 per cent (America) compared to the previous year. These destinations were particularly popular with post 80s travelers, 42 per cent visiting Europe and 29 per cent visiting America in the past 12 months.

Looking ahead, Chinese travelers showed a desire to travel even further than before, with countries such as France, the USA, Canada and Germany leaping in popularity, in comparison to their rankings in 2016. Interesting, despite not making the top ten, Latin America stood out as an appealing destination, with research showing that Chinese travelers traveling to Latin America tend to travel and spend more – with an average of 9 trips per year, compared to over 4 overall, and have a higher spend of US$5,600 versus US$3,600 overall. 

Top ten destinations Chinese travelers are intending to visit in the next 12 months, according to CITM: 

Ranking Destination Percentage of Chinese travelers Ranking in 2016
1 France 18% 9
1 USA 18% 12
3 Australia 16% 1
3 Canada 16% 17
5 Germany 12% 17
6 Maldives 11% 5
7 Japan 10% 2
7 New Zealand 10% 12
7 Singapore 10% 6
7 Thailand 10% 6
7 UK 10% 17

Another piece of insight from the CITM that is worth noting is that Hong Kong will likely remain a popular destination for Chinese travelers, as it is amongst the top three most popular APAC cities they intend to travel to in the future.

Despite many key indicators providing signs of a slowdown in the Chinese economy, the growth in outbound travel is expected to continue. Indeed, Chinese travelers expect to spend an average of 10 per cent more on travel over the next 12 months. Millennials will increase their spending the most, with around two thirds of post 80s and 90s saying they expect to spend more.

Jessica Chuang, Regional Marketing Director of Greater China, Southeast Asia and India for the brand says the potential for growth in both the number of Chinese travelers and their spending power is enormous.

“In 2016 there were 122 million outbound Chinese tourists[1] – 4 per cent more than in 2015 and a massive 74 per cent more than in 2011, when we published the first CITM. China is already the largest source of international travelers for many countries – despite the fact only 10 per cent of the population had passports in 2016[2]!

“As the number of Chinese travelers grows, so too do their expectations of new, more adventurous and diverse travel offerings. is proud to be right there alongside this ‘more generation’ of Chinese travelers, fulfilling their travel desires with hundreds of thousands of quality accommodations at the touch of a mobile button.”

Independent travel, including backpacking, is well and truly on the rise for this increasingly discerning, experience-hungry group of travelers, with 50 per cent saying they are interested in this type of travel. Interestingly, the research identified that group travel is becoming less popular for Chinese travelers with only 37 per cent saying they take part in group tours.

Shopping no longer holds the attraction it once did for Chinese travelers, dropping from 68 per cent in 2016 to 33 per cent in 2017. Dining (55%), sightseeing (53%) and rest and relaxation activities (41%) took out the top spots in terms of daily expenditure by Chinese travelers. Leisure beat out business as the key motivation, with 94 per cent saying this is the prime reason for international travel.

As Chinese travelers grow in affluence and sophistication, the stereotypical picture of them has fragmented CITM 2017 further refines the five travel personas outlined for the first time in last year’s report. These five distinct personas with their varying background, travel attitudes, preferences and behaviours, allow hotels and destinations to tailor their marketing and diversify their offerings.

This appears more important than ever, with the 2017 CITM report identifying gaps in the service offerings and travel desires from Chinese travelers:

  • Chinese payment facilities at hotels, such as UnionPay, rank second for consumers in importance, yet only 18 per cent of hotels currently offer these facilities. Indeed, only 18 per cent intend to offer them in the next 12 months.
  • In-house Mandarin speaking staff was ranked number one by travelers but was low on the list for hoteliers, with only 17 per cent currently offering the service and 17 per cent planning to in the next 12 months.
  • On-site Chinese restaurants were ranked fifth by travelers however only 7 per cent of hoteliers currently offer this service. Only 13 per cent intend to provide it in the next 12 months.
  • Translated travel guides were ranked number four by travelers but are a low in priority for hoteliers; 18 per cent currently offering this and only 21 per cent planning to in future.

Ms Chuang says “The CITM report is a useful reminder to the industry of the importance of understanding and responding to the needs of Chinese travelers. This means appreciating the different travel personas and providing a variety of services that are tailored to their ever-developing preferences.”

2017 travel personas

Detailed Explorers (30%) Tend to be born in the 70s who have witnessed massive change in China over the past few decades, or energetic post 90s millennials, who consider travel as an essential part of life and a chance to indulge. In the future, they tend to do more specialised tours such as eco tours, adventure tours, backpacking and luxury tours. Spending on travel for this segment increased by 15 per cent in the past 12 months and they allocated 26 per cent of their income to travel. They expect to spend a lot more on travel in the future with travel destinations leaning towards long haul destinations in APAC, Europe and America.
Indulgers (9%)



Predominantly post 80s millennials, their preferred way of traveling is theme tours and eco tours.


In the past 12 months, this segment spent 27 per cent of their income on travel and their daily travel spend increased by 16 per cent. The majority (60 per cent) expect to spend more on travel in the next 12 months.

Cautious connectors (30%) Mostly born in the 60s and 70s, they are predominantly from Tier 3 and 4 cities and are very family conscious.


In the past 12 months they spent 28 per cent of their income on travel and their average daily spend increased by 9 per cent. More than half (57 per cent) intend to spend more in the next 12 months.

Basic Pleasure Seekers (17%) Tend to be millennials with a travel spend of 29 per cent of their income. More than half (60 per cent) intend to spend more on travel in the next 12 months.
Experience Seekers (14%) Predominantly post 80s and 90s millennials from Tier 1 cities. They consider travelling to be a way of escaping reality and pushing their boundaries, preferring travel experiences such as backpacking, theme tours or eco tours. In the past 12 months and they allocated 29 per cent of their income to travel. More than half (61 per cent) intend to spend more on travel in the next 12 months.

The research combines data from more than 3,000 Chinese international travelers and over 3,800 accommodation partners globally with’s own data and other third-party research.

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