While many Chinese travelers dream of strolling on the Champs-Élysées, more of them have their sights set on the Gold Coast and kangaroos this year as Australia tops their list of preferred destinations.
This was the finding of the recently released 2014 Chinese International Travel Monitor survey by Hotels.com, which questioned 3,000 Chinese respondents who had been on an international trip at least once in the past five year on their travel habits and destination choices.
While France remains a perennial Chinese travel favorite in second place, New Zealand’s third-place slot demonstrates the immense popularity of Australasia among Chinese tourists. In fact, 55 percent of all respondents named either Australia or New Zealand on their travel wish lists—a rate 3 percent higher than last year’s results. While Australia appeals to older Chinese travelers, New Zealand is appealing to a younger demographic: 56 percent of those over the age of 35 chose Australia, compared to 41 percent of those younger than 35.
Australia’s success may be due to the fact that it was labeled the “most welcoming” destination for Chinese travelers, while Singapore and France followed in second and third place.
Europe was well represented, however, as the most popular continent on the wish list. European locales (including the UK) represented 75 percent of all responses, according to the report. The UK’s massive efforts to attract Chinese tourists appear to have paid off: the destination moved up two slots this year to seventh place.
When choosing a destination, safety is a main concern for Chinese travelers this year, which is likely due to various travel safety issues including the Malaysia Airlines MH370 tragedy, a coup in Thailand, and riots in Vietnam. Shopping is the fifth most important reason for travel, coming after sightseeing and cuisine—results which further demonstrate the increasing importance of experiential travel for Chinese tourists.
The Hotels.com survey is one of several recent reports aiming to pin down Chinese travelers’ preferences, and different “favorite destination” surveys often yield different results thanks to the varied demographics of the respondents. According to a Travelzoo survey published in January, Australia actually dropped down to the seventh most popular destination for Chinese tourists after it had topped the list the previous year, but it was the number one destination for ultra-wealthy Chinese tourists on the Hurun Report’s recent survey of Chinese high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). Like the Hotels.com list, France was also second to Australia for this well-heeled crowd, but New Zealand was further down on the list in 10th place.
The trick for Australia now seems to be getting all of these aspirational Chinese tourists to visit—the report finds that the popular spot didn’t even rank in the top 10 locations that Chinese travelers actually visited. The leading position on that list went to the United States, which ranked fourth on the Chinese tourist wish list.