In the aftermath of China’s Golden week, there are a few things that can be learnt to better prepare for the event next year:

1) Short-haul travel counts the big numbers. In the travel industry, air connectivity is king and Northeast Asia offers the largest selection of air seats for Chinese travelers. So it’s little surprise that Hong Kong and Macau (both of which can also be reached overland) scored big with Golden Week holidaymakers, while Taiwan, Korea, and Japan enjoyed impressive visitor numbers. 

2) Spending was a major priority. Golden Week retained its status as a global shopping fest, and true to their growing reputation as being the best-prepared travelers on the planet, a Nielsen survey revealed that 90 percent of Chinese travelers plan their luxury goods purchases prior to travel. Total outbound spending increased 9 percent year-on-year with data from UnionPay showing that Chinese purchasing increased most (compared to the 2013 October Golden Week) in South Korea, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, and Spain. The Chinese media reported that holiday spending patterns proved that while shopping reigned, entertainment and dining are increasing in importance as travel activities, with spend on dining increasing the most in Taiwan, Switzerland, and Australia. This will be a trend to watch in 2015, as event planners and restaurateurs will compete more visibly with retailers to entice Chinese travel spending.

3) This year’s domestic travelers may be next year’s outbound tourists. Any business interested in attracting Chinese travelers should watch the trends in domestic tourism, as developments in China increasingly influence outbound travel. About 475 million Chinese made a trip during the holiday, up  10.9 percent from the same 2013 period. Of these domestic tourists, more than 99 million spent at least one night in a hotel. A total of RMB510 billion was spent on UnionPay cards in China during Golden Week, with cardholders from Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu being the biggest spenders, according to local media. In the first six days of Golden Week, 29.3 million people visited key tourist sites.

4) Chinese overseas tourism investment has a focus on luxury. China’s Anbang Insurance grabbed global Golden Week headlines by agreeing—subject to a U.S. security review—to pay US$1.95 billion for the historic and legendary Waldorf Astoria in New York. Meanwhile, Dalian Wanda paid EUR265 for the Edificio España tower in Madrid, which will be converted into a hotel and offices. In addition, Chinese buyers have made a spate of tourism-related investments across Europe in recent years, and have purchased hotels in Los Angeles, Australia, Dubai, and the Bahamas. This is likely to be just the beginning, so watch this space.

5) Golden Week interest is rising globally. The world’s tourism authorities are transfixed by the potential revenues to be earned from Chinese travel—and for many of them, Golden Week is aptly named. 

6) Preparation levels for Golden Week remain variable. While most airports, hotels, tour operators, and leading retail brands in major cities had planned and promoted special discounts and packages for Chinese travelers and UnionPay cardholders in advance, many tourism-related companies remain unsure whether to treat (and budget for) October Golden Week as an annual revenue stream.

7) Chinese tourism is prefacing new legislative changes. The surge of Chinese outbound tourism and investment is influencing changes to the global legislative landscape. Numerous governments have amended their visa regulations to attract more Chinese tourists, while Australia recently unveiled its new “premium investor visa” offering residency to Chinese investors. During Golden Week, Japan—which recorded an 84 percent year-on-year increase in Chinese arrivals in the first eight months of 2014—expanded the scope of tax-free shopping for tourists to include consumables, such as foods and cosmetics, in addition to home electrical appliances, while Korea—which is hoping to improve upon 2013’s record 4.3 million Chinese visitors—announced it will issue more licenses for downtown duty-free stores.

8) China’s cruise industry is primed for growth. China is on target to become the world’s largest cruise market in the next decade. Luxury cruise lines are placing bigger ships onto Asian routes and during Golden Week Shanghai announced plans to develop a locally based cruise company, Nanjing declared its intention to build an international cruise port, and Ctrip—which has purchased its own cruise ship, Celebrity Century, and set up a management joint venture with Royal Caribbean—launched a booking platform for global cruise voyages. Just after Golden Week, it was reported that cruise company Carnival will provide China State Shipbuilding Corporation with design expertise to help create a China-built cruise ship, while Tianjin (China’s number-two ranked cruise port for total passengers) is extending its cruise season and Hainan is developing new transnational cruise routes.

9) The United States is poised for a Chinese inbound surge. Palpable excitement about Chinese travel has become noticeable in the previously reticent U.S. media. Almost 1 million Chinese visitors arrived in the United States during the first six months of 2014, up 23 percent year on year, and the United States was recently voted the third most satisfactory destination for Chinese tourists in a survey by the China Tourism Academy. Chinese visitation is expected to top 2 million this year, up from 1.9 million in 2013. During Golden Week, U.S. stores, hotels, and attractions—especially in Los Angeles and New York—reported booming business from Chinese tourists.

10) Chinese art and culture are more globally prevalent. We have already seen the trend of Chinese art exhibitions increasing in size and scope in cities worldwide such as London, New York, and especially Paris as China and France celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year.

So what did we learn from Golden week 2014? Well, a few new things—plus confirmation of a few already developing trends. Essentially, we learned that the world is becoming better attuned to the surge of outbound tourism from China—and is eagerly awaiting the next mass installment: Spring Festival.

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