Tourism spending to see a big surge: survey

By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-02-11 10:19
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BEIJING - Tourist spending from the Chinese mainland is expected to see a big surge this year, with sightseeing and ecotourism topping the list, a survey has found.

About 80 percent of holidaymakers from the Chinese mainland, 70 percent from Hong Kong and 65 percent from Taiwan said they intend to spend more on leisure travel this year, according to the latest findings by Travelzoo Asia Pacific, a US-based Internet media company.

Mainland subscribers to Travelzoo, it appears, will spend more on leisure travel this year than their counterparts from Hong Kong and Taiwan, with an average spending of $3,780 a person this year. Hong Kong and Taiwan subscribers will spend on average $2,670 and $1,782 each, said the survey, which interviewed its 4,200 subscribers over the period between Jan 4 and Jan 12.

"We can see unlimited opportunities, especially from the Chinese mainland, with the high percentage of our subscribers telling us that they are open to new holiday ideas. We can see by the figures that they also have the spending power for leisure travel," said Jason Yap, chief executive officer of Travelzoo Asia Pacific.

The fast-growing economy and the appreciation of the Chinese currency have boosted domestic and overseas travel in the country.

During the recent seven-day Spring Holiday "Golden Week", about 153 million people traveled in the country, up 22.7 percent year-on-year, and producing revenue of 82 billion yuan ($12 billion), a growth of 27 percent year-on-year, according to the National Holiday Tourism Office. The office said about 67,500 people left Beijing for overseas trips during the holidays, a 60 percent rise year-on-year.

Quality and sophistication are vital in the designing of travel products, said tourism insiders.

"Chinese travelers look for better quality vacations," said Guo Jianing, deputy-general manager of the outbound tourism center of Total Travel International Travel Services Co Ltd.

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"Simply sightseeing, ecotourism or shopping no longer offers satisfaction to Chinese travelers. We have to develop multiple concepts in one product to enrich their journey," he said.

Travelers from the Chinese mainland have become increasingly sophisticated in their travel inclinations. Sightseeing vacations consistently top the lists, followed by ecotourism, the Travelzoo survey said.

Despite their well-known preference for shopping, a new phenomenon the survey noted is that 46 percent of interviewees from the Chinese mainland cited eco-adventures among their "wanna-dos", well ahead of wining, dining and dancing, shopping, or theme park vacations.

This compares with 33 percent of those from Taiwan and 20 percent of the Hong Kong residents surveyed.

On the mainland, the Tibet autonomous region was ranked high when it came to the ideal ecotourism destination, ahead of other presumed popular destinations in Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Holidaymakers from China have want to experience more exotic yet luxury-end vacations. Spa resorts in particular ranked consistently at the top of the choices, the survey said.

"New Age" type vacations were most favored by travelers from the Chinese mainland. Beachfront hotels and resorts and spa resorts were consistently ranked high for all the vacationers, suggesting that the common theme for traditional holidaying is still going strong, the survey found.