Trip.com Group has seen mainland Chinese demand for travel continue to surge in the run-up to the Lunar New Year holiday season.
This comes after the decision last month by China to officially abolish all quarantine restrictions for inbound visitors from January 8, 2023. Since the announcement, Trip.com Group has seen a huge increase in searches and the volume of travel bookings.
On Trip.com Group’s leading Chinese language travel service platform Ctrip, between December 26, 2022 and January 5, 2023, search interest for outbound flights from China increased by 83% compared to the two-week period prior, with outbound flight bookings increasing by 59% over the same period.
Bookings show the most popular cross-border destinations include: Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Singapore, the US, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and Indonesia.
Lunar New Year trends
With millions set to be on the move during the Lunar New Year holiday in China, also known as Spring Festival, which takes place from January 21 to 27, 2023 and the first major holiday following the liberalisation of border policies, outbound bookings for trips have grown significantly.
Analysis of Ctrip data shows overseas travel for the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday surged by 540% compared to last year’s Spring Festival; and the average cost of bookings was revealed to have risen by 32% year-on-year.
Ctrip data also shows airline bookings from China to Hong Kong increased by 18 times compared with the previous year, following the announcement to ease restrictions. The number of airline bookings to Hong Kong has also increased by 36% month-on-month. Similarly, the search popularity of Hong Kong on the platform was more than double that and increased by 85% month-on-month.
Taking a deeper look, the top ten most popular domestic destinations for the Spring festival are Shanghai, Beijing, Sanya, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Kunming, Hangzhou, Chongqing and Haikou.
South-east Asia shines as top outbound destination
As of January 12, 2023, overall travel bookings of mainland tourists to South-east Asian countries increased by 1,026% compared with the same period last year. The number of air ticket bookings from China to South-east Asia increased by 864% year-on-year, and the top five most popular destination countries for mainland tourists traveling to South-east Asia during the Lunar New Year holiday are: Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Indonesia.
According to Ctrip’s data, from December 27 to January 11, Thailand stands out as a top destination for mainland tourists during the Spring Festival holiday on the platform. During the same period, inbound travel bookings from Thailand to China increased by 101% year-on-year.
In addition to this, as of January 12, the number of mainland tourists traveling to Singapore for the Lunar New Year holiday increased by 499% year-on-year, Malaysia saw an increase of 584% year-on-year, with Cambodia and Indonesia each increasing by more than 10 times year-on-year.
A welcoming return for Chinese tourists
With the adjustment of China’s entry and exit policy, the cross-border travel market is also picking up with embassies and tourism boards across the world targeting Chinese tourists aiming to attract them back to visit their countries.
One example is the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) China is back campaign, to welcome the return of Chinese tourists. It expects more than 300,000 Chinese tourists to visit Thailand in the first three months of 2023 alone.
Trip.com Group’s first livestream broadcast targeting the outbound mainland audience recorded sales of more than 20,000 room nights, amounting to a Gross Merchandise Value of over RMB 40 million (US$5.97 million). The livestream session was supported by TAT, with its governor Yuthasak Supasorn joining the broadcast to interact with viewers.
Hosted by Trip.com Group’s vice president Sun Tianxu and presenter Xiao Yu, the livestream session featured almost 60 products, including attractions tickets and staycation packages at hotels across Thailand, such as The Peninsula Bangkok, Capella Bangkok, InterContinental Pattaya Resort, and Banyan Tree Krabi.