China Arising: trends to heed to capture the emerging Chinese travelers
04/13/2023|7:12:17 PM|WiT

Since the reopening of China on January 8, there have been numerous surveys published on what to expect from this most consequential of travel markets and how the world should prepare for it.

But nothing beats hearing firsthand from those who are in-market or at the coal face of what is possibly the most significant travel event of the year, as the close to 200 attendees at the China Arising event, run by WiT in partnership with TravelDaily China and Accor.

As Charlie Li, founder of Travel Daily China said, “The whole world has been waiting for it.”

Here are the key takeaways on what changes have taken place in the travel tech landscape, and what you can do to market to emerging Chinese travelers.

The blocks are off, air capacity remains the main constraint

All the data points to instant surges in searches and bookings. Data from Atlas, the aggregator of low-cost and domestic airline content, shows searches on major OTAs such as Ctrip,, Qunar and Fliggy, shooting upwards as soon as restrictions were lifted. Two weeks after reopening, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore and Macau were the top five destinations in terms of searches for international flights and by the eighth week, Tokyo had replaced Macau in fifth position.

Little Red Book rules, Douyin booming – competition is good for innovation

Across the different sessions, one social media app’s name kept coming up – Little Red Book/Xiaohongshu, that is taking the country by storm. It allows users to find and share information about local businesses and its target demographic is mostly urban women aged 18 to 35 years old. Invested in by Alibaba and Tencent, the latest data shows it has 202 million monthly active users, with 72% post-90s and 50% distributed in first-tier cities or larger areas such as second/third-ranked townships.

Local giants want to grow global wings

The desire by Chinese travel brands to expand globally started before the pandemic, but the last three years have certainly made it even more imperative, given the tough conditions at home along with intense competition at home. Indeed, 2023 will be the year Chinese brands double down on the global expansion and this was evident at ITB Berlin when players such as Dida Travel, PK Fare and Flightroutes24, among others, were there in full force.

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