China's new globetrotters are much more independent

On flights between Europe and China, seat bookings are at 93% of pre-pandemic levels, with independent travelers, rather than tour groups, driving the increase

Feb 8, 2024

As Chinese travelers gear up for the Lunar New Year holiday, which this year runs from Feb. 10 to 17, more of the people who can afford to travel abroad are eschewing the group tours and shop-til-you-drop holidays that were popular before the pandemic and opting for more adventurous, experience-based trips.

While a record high number of Chinese will be holidaying at home amid a lacklustre economy, a smaller, wealthier but still significant number of people are opting for adventure, gourmet or cultural holidays abroad as flight schedules, and visa processing times, return to their pre-pandemic "normal".

Key takeaways

  • Independent travelers might be spending a bit more on travel and accommodation and so on, but they may well offset it by not spending as much in the luxury goods shops, according to McKinsey & Co;
  • There's a trend to be more active and that is flowing through into the types of trips people want to take. You don't just go to Thailand, you go to Thailand to do a kayaking or diving trip. Or if you go to Europe, you're going to ski;
  • China's international travel recovery remains a tick under 70% of 2019 levels, McKinsey said, and that percentage would be higher without the United States, where levels are at just 19% of pre-pandemic levels due to limited flight capacity and geopolitical tensions.

Get the full story at Reuters

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