Chinese tourist data during the holiday
The National Immigration Administration said outbound travel during the Chinese New Year holiday period (February 4-10) grew 12.48% to 6.31 million trips. That figure fell short of Ctrip's expectations of about 7 million. The China Tourism Academy said its figures (7.22 million) included information not comparable to the immigration administration's data.
ForwardKeys findings show that Chinese bookings to EU destinations during February 4-10 were ahead 9.2% compared to last year, well above the global average, which was 0.2% up on 2018. The EU northern region showed the biggest jump on last year, ahead by 19%. Only the central and eastern part of the EU was lagging, behind 3.7%. The EU excluding the UK showed an 8.1% jump in bookings.
Chinese tourists used UnionPay cards in 137 countries and regions during the holiday period, and the value of transactions reached RMB 1.16 trillion (USD 171 billion), up over 71%. Consumption related to tourism, including travel agencies, attractions and lodging, rose over 90% from the year before.
Middle-aged travelers in China are catching up to millennials in the use of mobile payments, and the fastest growth is coming from those born between 1960 and 1969. The number of Alipay users from that group increased 230% compared to 2018’s new year week, and total consumption increased 250%. Travelers from third- and fourth-tier cities made more purchases through Alipay than those from the more developed markets such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Homestay bookings by Chinese tourists during the holiday more than doubled from a year ago. Airbnb data showed that the Southern city Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, topped other Chinese cities in terms of bookings for shared accommodation. Tujia saw its B&B bookings surge about four times year-on-year during the period.
Chinese outbound travel in 2018
Mainland Chinese travelers made 149.72 million outbound visits last year, up 14.7% from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Meanwhile, mainland China received 141 million inbound visits, increased by 1.2% year-on-year, with Myanmar, Vietnam and South Korea as the top three sources of visitors. In 2019, China's outbound visits are forecast to climb 11% to over 166 million, while inbound tourism will see about 143 million visits, up about 1%.
Chinese arrivals to Europe increased 5.1% in 2018 despite the slowdown in the Chinese economy and concerns over Brexit. The top three EU destinations in terms of volume of Chinese arrivals were the UK (+2.4%), Germany (+2.6%) and France (+7.7%). If data from the UK was excluded in the context of Brexit, the performance of the EU would look even stronger, with arrivals in 2018 up +5.8%, as opposed to +5.1% with the UK included.
Mainland travelers who visited overseas destinations last year spent around USD 120 billion in all and the growth rate of shopping expenditure continued to slow. An Oliver Wyman survey revealed that less than 33% of Chinese tourists' travel expenses was devoted to shopping last year, down from the 41% in 2016.
A report from Ctrip says Chinese travelers are purchasing travel insurance at higher rates than ever before. The number of Chinese holidaymakers buying travel cover for their outbound trips grew by 20% in 2018 compared with the year before. Among them, 46% were for compensation for changes to travel schedules, 35% were for travel delays and 15% were to cover the cost of medical care.
Ctrip, Shiji and Spring Airlines
Ctrip is partnering with search giant Baidu in a bid to develop "intelligent tourism" in China. Baidu will deploy its cloud services and artificial intelligence capabilities to provide Ctrip with solutions tailored to tourism-related operations and businesses. With Baidu Cloud's capabilities, big data analytics can be conducted on users' interests, habits and preferences to package different tourism products for customers.
Ctrip once again joined another financing round of service robot supplier Yunji Technology on February 18, after the Beijing-based startup had secured a strategic capital injection from Ctrip in January.
Shiji acquired Touchpeak Software and its subsidiary EFT Middleware, having been an investor in the company for a number of years. Touchpeak will be incorporated into Shiji Payment Solutions and continue to operate its business and serve its customers.
Shiji has also completed the acquisition of global media platform ICE Portal to improve the curation and distribution of visual content to multiple channels for the hospitality industry. Shiji will enable customers to increase their distribution capacity while maintaining control on their brand standards.
Low-cost carrier Spring Airlines has announced to integrate its operational, maintenance and other aircraft data into the Skywise Core platform of Airbus. It became the first Chinese carrier to get connected to the system. With the participation of Spring Airlines, there are 54 airlines globally applying the Skywise platform, with about 4,500 aircraft connected to it.