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Chinese “Golden Week” travellers opt for tailor-made trips

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Thailand and Singapore push Hong Kong down the list as Chinese travellers shun group tours during “Golden Week”.

An industry survey reports a sharp rise in tailor-made holidays booked by Chinese travellers.  Group tours and independent travel appear to have fallen out of favour when it comes to the National Day “Golden Week” break.

While less than one percent of holidaymakers booked custom trips in 2016, the figure has jumped to about 11 percent of holidays planned over the eight-day break this year.

There’s a distinct shift in preferred destinations too.  Hong Kong, which has traditionally been very popular with mainland visitors, comes in just sixth on the list of offshore destinations.

Hotel operators in Hong Kong insist that bookings are still strong this year. However they admit that younger travellers, in particular, are now spending just a few days in the city before heading elsewhere.

This young demographic may be part of the reason for the shift.  Younger travellers featured more strongly in the survey conducted by online travel agency Ctrip® and the government think tank, China Tourism Academy. 60 percent of those polled were between 19 and 45, compared with 61 percent aged between 21 and 55 last year.

South Korea was hit hard in the survey.  Last year it ranked first in the foreign destination category.  However this year it failed to make the top five.  Undoubtedly this was influenced by Beijing’s ban on package tours to South Korea in March.  This followed Seoul’s decision to deploy a US anti-missile system.

The survey also showed that travelling with friends is becoming more popular.  22 per cent of travellers were heading off with friends this year compared with 13 percent in 2016.

About 70 percent of Chinese tourists travelling overseas head for Asian destinations.  Thailand, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam held the top four spots, with the United States coming in at number five.  The survey also showed Morocco, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and Finland were up and coming alternatives.

However many Chinese opt to stay home, visiting a variety of domestic holiday spots.  City breaks score highly with their promise of large attractions, theme parks and shopping opportunities.  Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou grabbed the top four spots.

Chengdu, famed for its giant panda research base, came in at number five.  Other popular domestic holiday spots included the resort cities of Dali, Hangzhou and Guilin.

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