Chinese urban citizens have different travel preferences: COTRI

In the latest edition of the COTRI Market Report, a study found that Chinese from different cities throughout the country have very distinct travel preferences and behaviour.

COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute examined China’s four first tier cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as 15 second tier cities from all parts of the country. Most affluent first tier city dwellers have already successfully worked their way through the list of “must-see” destinations such as Sydney, Singapore, Paris and New York, and are now looking for more “exotic” locations like Iceland or the Seychelles.

Nevertheless, there are still major differences between the sun-seeking northerners from Beijing, the shoppers from Shanghai and the fun-loving holiday-makers from Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

For the 15 second tier cities featured in the COTRI Market Report, which was published last week, the differences are even greater. Some cities, such as Chengdu or Hangzhou, are well-equipped with visa centres and international airports that offer many direct air connections to overseas destinations. Would-be travellers in places such as Xiamen or Jinan, however, have a far more limited choice of air connections, may lack access to visa application centres and are less-likely to be able to visit an international tourism fair in their city every year.

Accordingly, the type of marketing and services aimed at potential customers from different cities must be tailored to their levels of travel savviness, while also taking into account factors such as the relaxed approach to leisure seen in Chengdu, or Qingdao residents’ passion for new business opportunities.

Second and third tier cities have now become the country’s fasting-growing source markets, adding around ten million or so Chinese to the “club” of international travellers in 2016. In the past, most of these people could have been expected to have travelled with package tour groups, but today, the younger travellers among this group especially are more likely to skip this phase and book their flight tickets, hotels and rental cars directly via OTAs such as Tuniu or Ctrip. This trend has been further accelerated by the growing number of multiple-entry visa policies available to Chinese nationals.