Where will Chinese tourists travel post-Covid?
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Where will Chinese tourists travel post-Covid?

Tourists enjoy food in Yaowarat, or Bangkok's Chinatown. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
Tourists enjoy food in Yaowarat, or Bangkok's Chinatown. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The proportion of mainland Chinese travellers who are "eager to travel" as soon as they are allowed has more than doubled in the past year, according to a just-published survey.

It has been a difficult time for the Chinese travel industry. Quarantine, strict lockdown policies and inconvenience have all been listed as reasons for postponing domestic and overseas trips.

As Beijing begins to ease zero-Covid restrictions, huge pent-up demand for international travel signals a strong rebound is on the cards.

Thirty-eight percent of the 1,003 respondents to a poll conducted by marketing solutions company Dragon Trail International say they would book a holiday outside mainland China within six months of the quarantine-on-arrival policy being lifted.

Attitudes towards the quarantine-on-arrival policy have shifted considerably - 59% of respondents now want it to be relaxed, an increase of 20 percentage points since a spring poll - and tourism industry stakeholders catering to Chinese visitors should be positioning themselves to take advantage.

Among other findings from the survey, conducted in 49 tier-one and tier-two cities between Nov 7 and 20 and released on Wednesday, is that more than 88% of respondents expressed concern about their future impact on environments and host communities, which suggests eco-friendly accommodation and other tourist facilities with green credentials will be well placed to benefit when travel normalises.

Chinese holidaymakers are seeking authentic experiences such as sampling local food (60.8% expressed this preference) and lifestyles (56.7%). Providers of bed-and-breakfast accommodation should benefit, particularly properties outside traditional sightseeing districts.

Chinese travellers are cautious when it comes to safety - the number of respondents wanting to know whether a potential destination is safe has increased and is second only to affordability in determining holiday choices.

Of 15 specified destinations, only Hong Kong saw a significant increase in its perception as being "safe" (47%, compared to 37% in March).

In answer to the question, "If restrictions allowed, where would you most like to travel?", Hong Kong is in first place, with Japan, Macau, Thailand and South Korea rounding out the top five destinations on would-be mainland Chinese travellers' wish lists.

Beach resorts are favoured by more than half of those polled by Dragon Trail International. With its 3,200-kilometre (1,990-mile) coastline, Thailand is sure to benefit from a return of Chinese visitors, while the report suggests the Maldives and Australia should also ready themselves for an influx of Chinese beach lovers when restrictions are finally lifted.

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