Having saved money over the past three years, most wealthy Chinese are looking to travel again in style and spend more on more extravagant and unique trips, with international travel set to accelerate in 2023.
Last year, domestic holidays were the most popular choice among wealthy Chinese travellers, many of whom were still concerned about the pandemic. However, there is now a clear shift in willingness to travel internationally. While many are still eager to remain close to China and visit Japan and Singapore, countries farther afield such as France, the US, Australia and Switzerland are cited as their ideal holiday destination for 2023.
There has also been a clear upturn in planned spending on holidays since July 2022. At that time, 55% of affluent Chinese individuals anticipated spending more on holidays than on pre-Covid trips. This figure has now risen to almost three-quarters (73%). Indeed, 26% say they plan to spend much more than before, underlining how travel has become even more important to these wealthy individuals.
Holiday types have also evolved. Multi-generational family trips should continue to show strong growth, with 46% planning to take one. Meanwhile, 41% of Chinese affluent travellers are planning to take a holiday which specifically improves their mental well-being. The pandemic has also meant that relaxing and slower holidays are now more popular than active ones (79% versus 7%) as people look to unwind and recuperate after two trying years.
Moving on, there is little change in priorities when it comes to affluent Chinese travellers’ travel bookings. Overall, the health, safety and hygiene of the destination is the most important factor for upcoming bookings (53%). The retail/food and drink offering and sustainability credentials are the other leading factors, both cited by just under half (49%) as being important for their next bookings.
Seclusion and privacy have also come to the fore, with 31% saying this is important to them and several respondents stating their desire to visit less-crowded destinations. The pandemic has also led many to search for new and unusual experiences, and the development of a more adventurous mindset, where 80% prefer new destinations and experiences. Similarly, 69% say that they prefer holidays where they explore the local area, versus only 17% who prefer trips where they mostly stay at the hotel or resort.
The pandemic appears to have impacted spontaneity when planning holidays. Two-thirds now say that they prefer to plan in advance, with many citing the additional safety and peace of mind which comes from doing so.
There is also a growing desire for longer holidays which last a week or more: 63% prefer these versus just 24% for shorter trips. Holidays are now sometimes also being appended to business trips: one-third of wealthy Chinese individuals took one of these trips last year. Similarly, almost half (52%) say that they prefer to fly less often and stay for longer rather than take whistle-stop, more superficial breaks (25%).
Climate change remains a vital and ever-growing issue globally, and in most luxury categories, consumers continue to be more environmentally aware. For example, 84% of wealthy Chinese travellers are planning to take more sustainable/eco-friendly holidays in the future.
The report also found out that travel advisors will remain integral, with 80% of Chinese affluent travellers saying that they are at least somewhat influential, with 58% planning to use them for half or more of their holiday bookings over the next year.
The projected upturn in the use of travel advisors is a boon for the industry, although this comes with new expectations and demands. Various factors such as monitoring government advice/Covid statuses, getting hygiene information, and taking care of insurance and cancellations are responsibilities that the majority of Chinese travellers now expect to at least be partially taken care of for them.
Overall, travel is the most popular category for affluent spending. A whopping 97% of affluent Chinese individuals spent on travel last year, and 11% spent more than a fifth of their total expenditure on holidays. More than three-quarters (78%) say that they have a bucket list of places and experiences that they are trying to complete.
Source: By Rachel AJ Lee for TTG Asia