Editorial: To China and Beyond

China’s tourism industry moves into the world

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Following the lead of Chinese outbound customers, but also searching for business from the other 88% of global travellers, travel and tourism companies like Ctrip, JinJiang International, Alibaba’s Fliggy, Tongcheng-eLong, Meituan, and others are moving out of China. As reported by TravelDaily in a recent article, these companies have set off the consumption pattern in one of the world’s biggest countries to a new scale. This is done by effectively tapping into key areas such as communication, ID management, shopping, payment, and many others.

Already about one third of the revenue of Ctrip in the last quarter of 2018 was generated from international rather than domestic business. Ctrip owns localized websites specifically targeting more than 20 markets and more importantly international companies like Skyscanner, Tours4fun, Trip.com, and others.

Even Alibaba, with the help of its “Global Fun” project, plans to have more global influence through business development of its travel arm Fliggy, aiming at easing the process of conducting travel business internationally. Tongcheng-eLong has similarly started to move outside China as well with the acquisition of the domain www.travelgo.com for their international website.

Moving out of China could also be the motto for a new market segment of Chinese outbound travellers:

Citizens with flexible working circumstances in search of clean air, safe food, and free internet access, who would prefer to emigrate but are unable to overcome the financial and bureaucratic barriers. As an alternative, they stay abroad for a month or even longer, enjoying the foreign lifestyle for a brief period. Especially young families and members of the LGBT community seem to follow this trend, which is supported by the availability of multiple-entry tourist visas and lower air ticket prices.

Many of them find the quality of air, food, and services in destinations like Thailand much higher than that of first-tier cities in China, accompanied with more affordable prices. If they are the lucky owners of modern apartments in one of the big cities in China, income from renting it out temporarily can cover the cost of a stay of up to the maximum period of a tourist visa, which is in most destinations 90 days. Parents will send their children to private schools in the destination of choice, for the duration abroad, to help them to obtain a more international outlook and language skills.

It is apparent, that the Chinese tourism industry and the Chinese outbound market never stops changing.

Have a lovely week ahead!

Best wishes from the COTRI WEEKLY team!