Chinese buyers see swift recovery possible within one year

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Travel companies in China have struggled since 2020, however, optimism about the long-term development of the travel industry has prevailed. 79% of surveyed companies that managed to stay in the industry were focusing on maintaining relationships with their customers even during the pandemic era and are confident that their customers‘ loyalty will help in their business recovery.

In a sudden nationwide shift in early December, China’s local epidemic prevention and control policies have been significantly adjusted. “The practical implementation of these relaxations will prove extremely helpful to promote all-round exchanges, communication and cooperation between China and other countries once again, and serve as a very positive signal for China’s outbound tourism to resume in the very near future,” said David Axiotis, General Manager of Messe Berlin (Shanghai), the organizer of ITB China.

As indicated in the ITB China buyer survey, when asked about their expectations regarding the recovery of China’s outbound travel market, over 65% of respondents felt that the Chinese outbound travel market is capable of bouncing back in around one year after it opens up (among which 32% felt that it could recover in just six months).

Considering that travel in China and the world has been heavily affected for the past three years, the travel preferences and behaviors of Chinese travelers have evolved. What Chinese travelers are expected to value when choosing a destination are local safety and hygienic measures (69%), necessary public health measures to control virus outbreaks (69%) and pricing and promotion (64%).

In terms of offerings, the surveyed Chinese buyers mentioned customized travel products as most popular (77%), followed by FIT products with attractive pricing (75%).

However, there are still some uncertainties on the road to recovery. Chinese buyers shared their concern about the stability of the international political environment, international flights’ capacity and pricing and sufficient reception capacity of the travel supply end, all of which are vital for international travel companies to welcoming back Chinese travelers as soon as they start traveling again.

The surveyed companies stress the opportunities that the Chinese travel industry will undergo a major reshuffle. It will equalize the chances as all market players will be at the same starting point, competing for available market shares and resources. With regards to this situation, new pioneers and market leaders are expected to emerge.

Also, those Chinese companies that have retained their core team and are equipped with a talented workforce stand a better chance of capturing the market share once the borders open fully and outbound travel resumes.

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