March 8, 2023

The world has been waiting for the return of Chinese travellers

ITB Berlin News speaks with Ray Chen, CEO of Accommodation Business at Group and member of the ITB Buyers Circle, in an exclusive interview. He describes how travellers’ behaviour has changed and what trends we can expect in this new travel era.

How has the pandemic impacted travellers’ behaviour and preferences? 
As a group, we consistently adapt to consumers’ demands, and they are actively seeking more sustainable methods of travelling. According to a sustainability survey, 74% of travellers stated they would consider travelling more sustainably. Group data also showed 41% of travellers intend to spend more in 2023, and significantly more on ‘extras’ such as a larger baggage allowance and upgrades. 

With China’s borders having reopened in early 2023, we are expecting international tourism to return to pre-covid levels, with many eagerly planning trips for the rest of the year. 

What do travel companies need to do in order to capitalise on these new demands? Group has been working steadily towards the complete revival of the travel and tourism sector, alongside its partners to boost consumer and business confidence in the post-pandemic era. 

For instance, Group partnered with the Kyushu Railway Company to promote Japan as a unique travel destination offering an array of scenic and heritage attractions and experiences, and to further support the recovery of tourism in the region. 

For Group, digital consumer engagement has never been more important than it is now. Exiting the pandemic, travel companies re-launched their content marketing strategies with greater emphasis on enhancing interactions, deepening relationships and creating inspiring travel content. 

Here at Group, we have also taken the last few years to focus on customer needs and the evolution of the end-to-end travel experience. That is why we have launched infrastructure such as ChatGPT, opening up a raft of new possibilities. 

Why is mainland China such an important market for the future ?
China has long been a critical player in the global travel and tourism sector and many destinations have awaited the return of the country’s travellers – and their spending power. In 2019, Chinese travellers undertook over 155 million international trips, spending around US$245 billion, in total. Therefore, lifting several Covid-related entry restrictions and dropping the quarantine requirement for all international arrivals on 8 January was a major step forward for the return of global travel and the benefits this will bring to economies around the world.  

Personal relationships and the chemistry they establish is what makes meetings work and helps businesses thrive

Why is it important for Group and the industry to meet face to face at ITB Berlin?
 ITB Berlin is the world’s largest tourism and trade fair and is attended by leaders from across the global travel and tourism sector. We have representatives present from all of our brands and business units and we are here to seize new opportunities and build on existing relationships. 

While working virtually has been a necessity over the past two years, the importance of face to face meetings in helping establish new and cultivate existing contacts has never gone away. It is clear these personal relationships and the chemistry they establish is what makes meetings work and helps businesses thrive. 

Hall 9 / Stand 108
The world has been waiting for the return of Chinese travellers

Changing traveller trends

According to Ray Chen, a number of traveller trends will be changing this year. Not only will travellers be spending more on travel overall as well as on extras, they will also want to stay for longer. After the frustration of not being able to travel for years, they want to make each trip count. One pandemic-related factor that is facilitating this change is the increase in remote and hybrid working solutions. Travellers are combining business and pleasure by taking advantage of business trips to prolong their stay and explore the surrounding area. Ray Chen affirms that the average duration of a round-trip has increased. This trend means many travellers will be working from their travel destination. Travel companies will have to take into account this target market and provide adapted packages and solutions for those who want both to be able to work comfortably and enjoy their stay in a new place. Could the historical travel question “business or pleasure” be a thing of the past?