Chinese travel whispers (6/7/2023)

July 6, 2023
By Helena Beard

Our most recent bitesize update on the Chinese travel market #chinesetravelwhispers

1. The VisitBritain China Market webinar last week was full of optimism for a strong second half of the year as flight capacities between the UK and China are expected to return to 2019 levels by the end of the summer.

2. The UK is outperforming the rest of Europe because of strong flight capacity, but also a comparatively quick turnaround of visas. Chinese visitors to the UK can get a visa appointment in about 10 days at the moment. Agents are pushing the UK because it is seen as a ‘safer’ option for a problem-free visa.

3. The situation between China and the USA is getting more and more tense. This week, the USA advised its citizens to reconsider travel to China due to ‘arbitrary law enforcement and exit bans’. We are yet to hear if there will be an official response from China but, even if there isn’t, the tour operators will be loathe to push the USA at the moment.

4. Little Red Book continues its meteoric rise as the channel for inspiring travel. Whilst it’s a lot easier to build followers on Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter), Little Red Book is seen as more authentic and delivers much more valuable responsive and engaged followers. According to the excellent Travis Qian at VB, some agents are actually running their businesses through Red Book now, as the conversion rate is so high.

5. There still hasn’t been a third release of the ADS list so Chinese agents are still not allowed to promote a group package tour to the UK, or apply for a group visa. But it’s not such a big problem as it might sound. This is not standing in the way of Chinese agents who are finding ways to send smaller groups on FIT visas, and if we were on the list, I’m not sure the visa offices could cope at the moment anyway.

6. The new Chinese tourist wants to show off in a different way. Bragging is still important, but it’s not so much ‘look at me in front of Big Ben’, but more ‘here’s a picture of me taken at a weird angle, so you can tell I’m cool enough to be travelling again, but I want you to ask me where I am’.

7. According to the latest “Summer Outbound Travel Trends Report” from Airbnb, Chinese users’ travel searches for travel 1-15 July surged nearly six times on the previous period. Chinese users are expected to stay in nearly 10,000 cities and towns in 194 countries and regions this summer.

8. Destination Britain China is going ahead and lots of you have signed up for it – brilliant to hear. If anyone is interested in doing some extra sales calls, before or after perhaps in another Chinese city, contact us and we can arrange a short add-on mission for you to make the most of your trip.

Finally, big thanks to the enthusiastic and engaged delegates who attended the first UKinbound China Welcome Workshop this week at the British Motor Museum and to Shakespeare’s England for their support. Here’s to many more.

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