Chinese entertainment on cruise ships a clear indication of the importance of ‘best-agers’ in the outbound tourism market
Having launched earlier this year as the first cruise ship to be specifically-built for the Chinese market and its customers’ specific needs, the Norwegian Joy has introduced a winter programme of traditional Chinese entertainment as a means of specifically targeting more senior travellers from China.
Reflecting the growing importance of this market in Chinese tourism, this winter will see Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) sell travel packages based around three distinct themes: Pingtan Musical Cruises, and Dancing Group Cruises and Shaoxing Opera Cruises.
With the 30 to 49 year-old age group accounting in 2016 for less than 50% of Chinese border crossings for the first time, the rise of cruise tourism from China shows the prevalence of increasingly- diverged age demographics in current outbound market trends.
Cruise travel, notably, has grown exponentially in recent years in the Chinese outbound travel market and, being regarded as relatively safe and predictable as well as being ready to provide Chinese-appropriate services to passengers, is well-suited to ‘6plus1’ groups, consisting of four grandparents, two parents and one child.
With the Norwegian Joy already offering numerous services suited to Chinese tastes of various generations – including luxury shopping activities and virtual reality games, as well as providing connected staterooms specially devised for extended Chinese families – the use of traditional entertainment aimed predominantly at older travellers as a means of promoting high-end cruise packages is a clear indication of the pulling power this demographic group.
Typically-speaking, a Chinese family group that might book a Norwegian Joy cruise package would consist of a wealthier couple paying to take their older parents on an overseas trip (often for the first time) in a comfortable, secure and luxurious environment as a means of ‘repaying’ them for having too little free time to properly care for them – as is expected in Chinese society. Furthermore, bringing their child along provides it with the opportunity to see the world as an educational experience.
Nevertheless, grandparents taking a trip with their extended family is not the only form of outbound travel for Chinese ‘best ager’ tourists. At one end of the market, many older tourists travel as part of a group, allowing them to experience foreign destinations and cultures within the comfort of a Chinese-speaking ‘bubble’, while at the other end there are growing numbers of more experienced travellers prepared to travel independently.
The means by which older Chinese outbound tourists travel, however, can be greatly influenced by the age they were during China’s economic boom; those born in the 1940’s or earlier were typically too old to have benefitted from the country’s economic growth themselves and are more likely to be bought overseas trips by their busy wealthy children, while Chinese born in the 1950’s would have benefitted more directly from the economic landscape in the 1990’s meaning they may already have international experience. Accordingly, among the 1950’s-born generation, there are greater numbers of tourists willing to travel independently and pay for their own trips themselves as they reach (semi-) retirement age.
While the number of over 60’s in China numbered 230 million in 2016, accounting for 17% of all Chinese, this figure is set to increase to 280 million by 2025, making up 20% of the country’s population. With as many as 80% of older Chinese citizens expressing their desire to travel internationally – regarding it as a means of broadening their horizons and staying healthy – the Chinese outbound tourism market is set to continue to develop alongside the demographic profile of travellers.
For a greater insight into the topic of ‘silver’ Chinese outbound travellers, you can watch the latest episode of the China Outbound Travel Pulse video series.
For more information on the series, please visit https://china-outbound.com/dragon-trail-cotri-travel-pulse-videos/
Citation: Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
Image: Screenshots, Episode n. 2 – Silver Travellers, Dragon Trail Interactive & COTRI Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute