Medical, love and soul tourism on rise among Chinese tourists: JWT

TOP OF THE CHARTS: The idea that people from China travel chiefly in search of shopping experiences is a stereotype in need of adjustment, according to a new report from J. Walter Thompson.

A Daocaoren tour.
A Daocaoren tour.

Learning about new cultures, having surprising experiences, romantic destinations and self-discovery all rank higher than shopping when it comes to the priorities of Chinese outbound tourists, according to new research.

The study was carried out JWT’s Innovation Group on 1,500 adult travellers from 16 Chinese cities in March this year using SONAR, the agency’s proprietary research unit. All respondents travelled outside of the country in the past 18 months. 

Even though only 2% of the respondents said they were looking for love in overseas trips, the study points out the example of Beijing-based travel group Daocaoren, which offers niche tours conducive for single travellers seeking a partner.

JWT’s China Outbound: The New Face of Chinese Global Travel report also lists medical tourism, love tourism and soul tourism as emerging motivations for travel.

In addition, there are pockets of opportunity among LGBT travellers. Notably, LGBT couples may travel in order to tie the knot abroad or attend pride parades in international cities. For example, the report cited Taobao, which partnered with gay dating app Blued and four Chinese LGBT organisations to send 10 Chinese same-sex couples to California to get married after the US state legalised gay marriage in 2015.

Meanwhile, Jerusalem and Vatican City are listed as popular destinations for Chinese tourists seeking to fulfill their spiritual needs. Alipay has expanded to Israel recently, and that country's Ministry of Tourism said the number of Chinese tourists doubled last year to 113,000, according to the report.

Standard hotel chains dominate the choice of outbound Chinese travellers, the report finds, while millennials form the majority of travellers surveyed in the study who stayed at Airbnb accommodations.

This finding is line with a report released by mobile advertising solution providers Express-In and Pingcoo (See: Chinese tourists’ top hotel brands, travel apps and search terms) which names Holiday Inn as the favourite hotel brand.

Only 36% of those surveyed by JWT said they would splurge on lodgings, compared to 57% who would rather spend more money shopping. Eighty-five percent of the travellers surveyed said they would book a trip over the internet, signaling a boom for travel booking platforms such as Ctrip, Fliggy and Meituan-Dianping, the top three sites used by the respondents.

Terrorism, crime and discrimination loomed large among concerns for potential travellers:

Another report, the 2017 China Outbound Tourism Travel Report released by Ctrip and the China Tourism Academy, found that outbound trips reached 130 million in 2017, with spending amounting to $115.29 billion.

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