Travel TrendsVisa-free policies, removal of ‘zero-dollar’ tours and silver screen influences among reasons.

Chinese tourists are flocking to islands. Here’s why

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Chinese going to islands
More targeted marketing needed to tap the growing island travel segment. Photo Credit: Tomwang112/Getty Images
Chinese going to islands

This latest trend is revealed in ITB China Travel Trends Report that highlights the growth of island travel. Commissioned by ITB China, the study is created in collaboration with the international consulting and research company Kairos Future.

Due to rapid urbanisation in China the conception of leisure for many Chinese is escaping to an island, leading to a growing demand for island vacations. Although China has a long coastline it is not dotted with beaches, and the rare ones are often overcrowded during holiday seasons; so many travellers opt to go overseas for sun, sea and sand.

This latest trend is revealed in ITB China Travel Trends Report that highlights the growth of island travel. Commissioned by ITB China, the study is created in collaboration with the international consulting and research company Kairos Future.

According to the report, the strong demand for island holidays has led several travel companies to report an expected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 35% in the next three years. The market for island travel currently already exceeds RMB100 billion (US$147 million) annually.

Here are the reasons behind the rise in island travel.

Visa-free policies
The easing of visa policies has led to increases in tourist arrivals to many countries. The same hold true for island destinations as removal of visas is one the main drivers cited for the growing interest in island travel as it guarantees a smooth, carefree and relaxed journey.

According to the report, the growth expectations are being fuelled especially by Chinese millennial consumers. In a referenced poll 30% of millennials surveyed expressed the desire to go on an island trip within the next three years.

Romance, adventure and escapism
Chinese travellers typically associate islands with romance, adventure, and escapism. According to Kairos Future’s text analysis of social media posts on the topic of island travel, privacy is a key trend correlating closely with the notion of romance. Segments that stand out among island travellers include soon-to-be wed couples engaging in destination wedding photo shoots, newly-wed couples on their honeymoons and adventure seekers looking for activities such as scuba diving.

Removal of ‘zero-dollar’ island tours
In the past years the perceived image of some island destinations popular with Chinese travellers had suffered due to ‘zero‑dollar’ tours, which included unannounced mandatory shopping trips. The study disclosed that “this phenomenon might now have come to an end following shifting values among Chinese consumers paired with an increased control and regulation by destination government authorities having identified and addressing this issue.”

The Indonesian Tourism Association, for example, began to intensively regulate low cost tours last year and Bali, one of China’s top island destinations, has seen all tour-related shopping sites closed. Since 2016, Thailand has also taken drastic action to eliminate ‘zero-dollar’ tourism.

Influenced by silver screen
Island travel demand is also strongly influenced by depictions in media, with films, TV, and social media that highlight previously unknown islands, attracting the attention of new travellers.

Over the next three years more than 70% of island tourists are expected to opt for tailored or self-guided tours. Customisation is the key to addressing market segmentation, is the advice given in the report to tourism players

“Identifying each island’s differentiators and understanding market demands will allow vendors to engage in more precisely targeted marketing and advertising campaigns, thereby attracting more customers.”

More expensive and customised journeys
The report also notes a trend towards more expensive and personalised journeys, as the purchasing power and travel knowledge of Chinese consumers continues to grow. There is an increasing number of tourists choosing customised tours to meet their specific travel needs. Using social media to explore destinations and developing preferences for activities on their itinerary, they are prepared to make informed decisions about their travel plans.

“On top of beaches more diversified, niche activity offerings – including hiking active volcanos, whale watching and jungle adventures – reflect a present shift towards experiential tourism,” are what Chinese travellers look for in their breakaways.

The complete analysis will be published together with ITB China Travel Trends Report, and presented at ITB China in Shanghai (May 15-17).

Source: Web In Travel


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