Freed of most restrictions, and with money to spend after being confined
by one of the world’s most stringent pandemic lockdowns, Chinese
travellers are ready to go shopping.
shop till they drop, a new report from Sabre reveals, even if it means
paying airfares that will cost almost twice as much as they did in 2019.
“Passengers appear to remain keen to fly, and are proving to be less
price sensitive, possibly due to the “revenge travel” phenomenon
resulting from the long lockdown period,” Sabre’s trends report noted.
Pacific will get most benefit from this retail splurge with Japan,
Thailand and Korea the top three destinations tipped for Chinese
outbound travel in 2023, ahead of the United States, Taiwan, UK and
Increase in searches (grey) & bookings (red) through 6 February for inbound & outbound China routes.
Indonesia, a top outbound destination in 2019, lost its spot in the
top 10 to the Philippines, which Sabre attributes to reports that
Indonesia slowed down on promoting their destination to China travellers
during the pandemic, “possibly impacting Indonesia’s position in the
Outbound travel has rebounded faster than inbound travel to the
region, with Sabre data showing outbound bookings making up 43.5% of
2023 overall travel through 9 February, compared to 37% for the same
period in 2019.
One of the main motivations for inbound travel is for long-awaited family reunions, following the lengthy lockdown period.
Sabre says while there is “still some way to go” before all travel
restrictions are lifted for travel to and from China, its data indicates
“the potential for long-term travel confidence”.
Top outbound destinations based on bookings by 9 February.
Another trend identified by the report is that many travellers are
taking a “wait-and-see” approach to booking their travel, aware perhaps
that pandemic restrictions might ease further in the months ahead.
of 5 February, only 21% of outbound and 14% of inbound bookings were
made for travel within two weeks, versus 37% and 30% in the same period
“Travellers appear to be planning further ahead now, when compared to 2019 where there were more last-minute bookings.
“This may be due to new booking habits learned from the Covid-19
pandemic, where travellers have gotten used to pre-planning instead of
impromptu trips, or the fact that capacity for China routes have yet to
recover to pre-pandemic levels and there are fewer available for
last-minute bookings,” Sabre noted.
Sabre data shows airfares lowered slightly to around 1.5 times
pre-pandemic prices in February versus two times in January. “Prices are
however expected to remain higher until supply has been fully restored
on the capacity front,” the report indicated.