The latest Chinese traveller sentiment report from Dragon Trail International reveals that safety perceptions of international destinations have greatly improved — good news as the travel industry awaits the return of the world’s biggest source market.
In March, over 1,000 mainland Chinese survey respondents were asked to rank the safety of 15 outbound destinations, comprising those traditionally popular with Chinese travellers, along with a mix of geographic regions and different kinds of destinations. Countries in the Asia Pacific region included Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and Australia.
Compared to Dragon Trail’s previous sentiment survey conducted in September last year, travellers’ perceptions of outbound destinations as being “unsafe” decreased across the board, with the exception of Hong Kong. So which destination saw the most significant increase in safety perception?
Chinese travellers view Singapore as the top safest destination. Photo Credit: Dragon Trail
Japan — which along with Thailand has long been the top outbound destination for Chinese travellers beyond Greater China — saw the biggest increase. In Dragon Trail’s previous survey, conducted after the Tokyo Olympics, 70% of respondents ranked Japan as “unsafe” and only 8% as “safe”. Now, 36% see Japan as “safe”.
“Our understanding is that heavy media coverage of Japan surrounding the Tokyo Olympics (including local outbreaks, spectator-less events, and efforts to control Olympic-related gatherings outside the venues) is what caused this change, and now Japan is settling back into its more normal perception of being a very safe country,” said Dragon Trail’s marketing and communications director, Sienna Parulis-Cook.
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“Comparing the September and March results, it’s actually astounding how much of an improvement we’ve seen for almost every country. The most-improved seem to be those that were seen as most “unsafe” previously.”
As most of the world relaxes or even removes Covid prevention measures, one might have expected it to appear more dangerous to Chinese travellers, but this doesn’t seem be the case, she said.
“Although there has been criticism in China of the ‘living with the virus’ approach, most countries have started to move back to normal, and the impact of Covid is reduced because of vaccines and acquired immunity. This means there’s less alarming news about Covid in these destinations, and a feeling that things are returning to normal without the need for the restrictions.”
More Chinese media attention on outbreaks in Hong Kong and on the mainland and fewer stories about high infection rates in other countries is also likely to be driving the ease in safety concerns. “With the war in Ukraine, there are now political stories taking the place of public health as a global concern,” she concluded.