It is upon us! Anyone travelling in China over the next seven days, and at many tourist spots abroad, will know that this is no ordinary week.
Unlike the Lunar New Year, when most Chinese travel home to their families, October’s National Day Golden Week is when they get out sightseeing and shopping en masse. It is the biggest single week of the year for leisure tourism. Last year, an estimated 480 million travelled between October 1 and 7 and, if the growth rates continue, it will be over half a billion this year.
Beijing first introduced Golden Week holidays in 1999 to expand the domestic tourism market. And expand it has. During each holiday, state media and social networks are flooded with photos of major sightseeing spots and transport hubs experiencing what has become known as a tourist apocalypse.
Overrun local tourist attractions and an increasing wanderlust for international destinations has seen more Chinese use the holiday to travel abroad. The most popular ‘overseas’ destination, Hong Kong, is seeing changing tourism trends which represent the wider market overall. Although international tourism is growing every October Golden Week, 15% fewer Mainland tour groups are expected to travel to HK this holiday, following falling numbers last year. It reflects slowing demand for group tourism as more Chinese opt to travel independently, but also an increasing desire to travel to more exotic, farther flung destinations. Many tours to Japan have long been booked out and there aren’t many seats left on planes to Australia, Europe or the U.S.
Tourism operators can obviously expect a boon from the tourist week, but a lot of other businesses will as well. Luxury retailers are likely to see their tills ringing, with as many as 80% of all luxury purchases by Chinese estimated to be made abroad.
There are also less obvious beneficiaries of tourism. When Chinese travel abroad, they become more familiar and build affinities with many of that country’s products and services, such as education, fashion and food & beverage. This is illustrated in research commissioned by Tourism Australia, which found 39% of Chinese overall rate Australian food and cuisine favourably; however, of those who had visited Australia, 76% were fans. Many more brands could capitalise on the opportunities that increasing outbound tourism brings to sell their wares in Mainland China – it is one example of how different sectors are related and something that China Skinny can help with. If you are based in China, we hope you have a wonderful Golden Week holiday. We’ll be back after the break.
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