Having followed the outbound Chinese tourism market over the last several years, I've noticed the one “change” that’s steadfast are its numbers: they keep rising. This engenders other positive changes. For example --
- Travel for luxury and education abroad is expanding.
- The base of travelers among millennials and the middle class is growing.
- More airlines have established routes with China.
- Regarding language, overseas destinations are becoming increasingly Mandarin friendly.
The growing travel market is also savvier than it once was. As individual travel surpasses group travel and tours, user-driven sites such as Mafengwo.cn (nicknamed "China’s TripAdvisor") help travelers become better-informed consumers, as more users share their insights, tips, and opinions.
Another significant game-changer over the last several years is the Chinese social media, WeChat (Weixin). There, when one person showcases their photos of international travel accompanied by emotional or insightful posts and share it with their peers and friends, the details carry a lot of clout. Chinese travelers want all kinds of information, and traditionally they seek it from close contacts.
In contrast to this, travel agencies collectively organize nearly 14 million trips annually. With an average 17% year-over-year growth (according to ChinaTravelOutbound.com), travel agencies remain viable. (Chariot is both a niche travel agency and a wedding event planner.)
When choosing to study abroad, Chinese travelers behave independently. They diligently research a destination or educational institution abroad. Over the past several years, the number of Chinese being educated abroad has grown by about 25%, now numbering half a million students per year. (Prior to working in the leisure travel industry I held a post in China’s international education business.)
Bottom line, travel is rising across the board.