Time is up for Unprepared Travel Sectors, as China Gets Moving

Quick Shot

Chinese tourism experts warned the industry to prepare months in advance for the return of the Chinese traveller; This means that active destination promotions with special packages serving the reopening of China should already be in place. We will see how much he heeds this call in the coming days.

Selene Brophy

If the abrupt lifting of all restrictions by the Chinese Government has caught travel agencies and tour operators off guard, this begs the question: why?

Chinese tourism experts warned the industry to prepare months in advance for the return of the Chinese traveller; This means that active destination promotions with special packages serving the reopening of China should already be in place.

However, key concerns beyond the travel agency’s direct control include air connectivity, visa and passport application backlogs, and Covid-19 travel requirements. But on Sunday, vengeance Chinese traveler will step in, whether the industry is ready or not, as China lifts long-standing quarantine requirements.

In 2019, 155 million Chinese spent $254.6 billion traveling abroad, and a meaningful recovery in mass tourism is only expected in the second quarter of 2023.

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As the wave of Chinese tourists spreads around the world, easy-to-access destinations will be the winners. The United States is one of many countries that impose mandatory COVID-19 testing on travelers from China.

The ongoing backlog of US visa applications is a problem for many countries around the world and a barrier to tourism recovery. As a result, the USA will not see a significant influx of Chinese travelers despite being one of the top two destinations for Chinese Travelers.

Regional destinations like France and Australia as well as Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Singapore will now top the list for Chinese travelers.

Short-Term Challenges for Group Tours

“We expect a slow return to long-distance travel,” said Masa Yamawaki, Asia market manager of Sense of Africa, a subsidiary of Tourvest.

He noted that overseeing the recovery in the market for travel from Australia and Italy to South Africa has indirectly prepared his team for the opening of China as most of the supply and service confusions have been cleared in 2022.

The Chinese New Year on January 22 is an unfortunate missed opportunity, as the window is now too small for any significant purchases as the borders open, he added. This is likely to be a strategic move by the Chinese Government to curb any rush following the opening of its borders.

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However, the language barrier remains a concern, as Yamawaki states that access to trained mandarin-speaking guides is a critical requirement for the Chinese traveller.

The pandemic has largely destroyed the tour guide business, with many qualified mandarin-speaking guides no longer working in the industry or returning home to China.

The hospitality industry has also been particularly hard hit as a number of Chinese Restaurants that rely on the consistent business of International Chinese Travelers have also closed their doors.

Group Tour Chinese travelers are known to prefer Chinese cuisine when traveling, they choose to try the local cuisine for about 20 percent of their trip, but opt ​​for traditional Chinese food for the remaining 80 percent of their trip.

“They like to go out and see, but eating Asian food puts them in their comfort zone. Yamawaki said we should be able to meet the needs of the Chinese traveler.

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Wealthy Independent Traveler Will Expect More

According to Johan Groenwald of Royal African Discoveries, when it comes to top Chinese travelers who have traveled a lot, their preferences and tastes have changed.

“We work with some top Chinese travelers and they often travel differently from the group market. Regarding the product and itinerary, the requirements for congested itineraries remain as Chinese travelers experience more time constraints than Western travelers. However, high experiential travel still remains. they have expectations.

Groenewald notes that this high-end segment can spend anything up to $58,000 for a 7-night package.

“Expectations from a trained guide are more flexible in this segment as long as they are not embarking on a multi-generational journey with older grandparents who are not fluent in English. Young, newly wealthy Chinese travelers are more comfortable with English.

“However, when we need a guide for them, they need to be well trained to deal with the high demands of these clients who want more in-depth, experience-rich tours,” he said.

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