Where travelers go

New destinations further from home

Chinese travelers are spreading their wings and going further and further afield. This was a very strong trend in CITM this year.  

While APAC is still the most popular destination (82%), long haul trips to Europe and the United States have significantly increased in popularity. The number of people visiting these destinations in the past 12 months increased by 25 per cent and 11 per cent respectively compared to the previous year. They were particularly popular with post 80s travelers, with 42 per cent visiting Europe and 29 per cent visiting the United States.   

South America and Central America have also increased in popularity in the past 12 months, with Brazil, Argentina and Mexico all attracting more Chinese travelers. This trend will continue, with an increase in the number of people saying they will visit these locations in the next 12 months. These destinations are particularly attractive to travelers who travel more frequently and see travel as a necessary part of life and a way to learn and explore. They are also the travelers more likely to travel independently, go backpacking and join specialized tours such as eco tours. Colombia is popular with the more adventurous post 80s and post 90s travelers.   

APAC is very popular with post 70s, many of whom are traveling with family, with 87 per cent of this group visiting the region in the past 12 months.  

At the same time, visits to Japan and South Korea declined overall by 5 per cent and 24 per cent respectively in the past 12 months. Many travelers said they preferred not to visit the same destination again.  

Popular destinations among Chinese travelers in the past year

Most welcoming destinations

All travelers are choosing different destinations but all are going further afield. While older travelers are showing a preference for Western Europe, a growing number of millennials are traveling to the Americas as well as Western Europe. Non-millennials who do travel to Western Europe are more likely to spend more than millennials who travel to both regions.    

The key factors for choosing a destination in the future continue to be safety, historical and heritage value, and ‘on my bucket list’. This is consistent across the age groups, with historical and heritage features slightly more important to the post 60s and 70s and experiencing a new culture slightly more important to millennials.    

When asked which countries they felt were the most welcoming, Chinese travelers rated Thailand as number 1 this year, followed by Japan in number 2 position and Australia number 3.     

Most welcoming destinations for Chinese travelers

Key factors when choosing next holiday destination

Long haul travel to increase

The trend for long haul destinations will continue in the next year. When planning for the next 12 months all age groups prefer long haul destinations, with Europe at the top of list followed by the US and Canada.    

In comparison to last year, the preference for long distance travel in the future comes through strongly. The number of travelers intending to visit Europe for the first time has risen 19 per cent, the US 10 per cent, Canada 11 per cent, the Maldives 7 per cent, New Zealand 6 per cent and Australia 3 per cent.    

And while APAC is still the most popular choice, it is the long haul destinations in the region such as Australia and New Zealand that are in demand. Overall the number of travelers intending to visit APAC in the next 12 months has declined 21 per cent compared with the previous 12 months, mainly because fewer travelers intend to visit Japan (-23%) and Thailand (-9%). New and distant are in, familiar and nearby are out.    

With greater proficiency in English, travelers are also favouring English-speaking countries so Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Canada are all on the list.  

Country to visit for the first time in the next 12 months

Independence and diversity the new norm

Across all generations, Chinese travelers intend to travel more independently in the future. The activities chosen in the different regions vary slightly, with dining and sightseeing topping local expenses in APAC and Europe, while shopping tops the list of expenses in the United States.     

Post 90s and post 80s travelers are visiting a much more diverse range of locations than previously and intend to travel even more widely in the next 12 months. Along with the wider range of locations, their taste for intrepid travel has also increased. Post 60s are doing the same, both with and without their children.     

Even those post 60s who travel with their children are being influenced by their millennial offspring, looking to choose more independent styles of international travel in the future, as can be seen in the table to the right. The most marked difference was in the number of post 60s who would travel in a private luxury tour in the next 12 months, with 17 per cent of those who had not traveled with children choosing this option, compared with 24 per cent of those who had.    

The top landmarks in different destinations

Top cities to visit in next 12 months