Today, Monday, February 6, marks the start of the second phase of China’s outbound tourism recovery. China will resume group tour travel to 20 countries. Eleven are located in the Asia-Pacific region: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, New Zealand, and Fiji. The remaining nine destinations are the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Hungary, Cuba, and Argentina. The Chinese government suspended the sale of international group travel packages on January 24, 2020, as it prepared to close the borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, less than 10 percent of Chinese outbound travellers intended to join a group tour. Chinese tourists often have the reputation of taking mass market packaged coach tours. According to the preferences of travellers, semi-organized tours will become the most popular form of trip model.

The China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023: 88 Practical Ways to Prepare for the New Wave of Chinese Visitors cautions global destinations to reevaluate outmoded beliefs: “A fast-growing segment is semi-organised trips. This will become more important in the coming years than package tours. Such tours are still organised by tour operators, including OTAs, but they are customised according to the wishes of customers.”

However, demand for group travel is predicted to decline. As stated in the Handbook, “First-time travellers from lower-tier Chinese cities might still cling to cheap mass market package tours, but for most destinations and service providers they will create more problems than profit.”  It adds that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of freedom in travel planning and exploring destinations through a personal lens. More Chinese tourists will seek the ability to modify their itineraries on the fly and create add-on activities while in the destination, which is not possible with group tours.

Wolfgang Georg Arlt and Gary Bowerman co-wrote The China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023: 88 Practical Ways to Prepare for the New Wave of Chinese Visitors. In addition to other topics, this report focuses on Chinese Business Travel & MICE, Free Independent Travel (FIT), Package & Semi-organised Tours, Student Travel, and Visit Friends & Relatives (VFR).

The Handbook predicts that Chinese citizens’ outbound travel will increase from 170 million in 2019 to 228 million in 2030. The 200 million annual cross-border movements from China are anticipated to be reached in 2028.

Written specifically for the global travel and tourism industry, the Handbook presents the key drivers of the first 25 years of Chinese outbound tourism, which began officially in 1997, and evaluates the outlook through 2030. The main section is divided into 88 key themes that will influence the growth of Chinese outbound travel beyond 2023. It contains references and citations from 48 nations and 25 Chinese cities and provinces. It contains 264 insightful recommendations for travel industry professionals.

Each of the 88 segments begins with a quick-read summary and concludes with three bulleted takeaways. These actions are immediately applicable and will assist travel, tourism, and hospitality companies in adapting their products, services, and marketing to meet the new needs and aspirations of Chinese travellers.

The China Outbound Tourism Handbook 2023 examines the dramatic changes that have taken place within China over the past three years and guides readers to view Chinese tourism through a new lens for a new era of travel. This article investigates the emerging travel, technology, fashion, branding, retail, and marketing trends in China during the pandemic.


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