China's Affluent Ditch The Tour Bus For Solo Travel

    "Free and independent travel" is the new phrase marketers are buzzing about as Chinese travel plans quickly transform from group-oriented to individualized experiences.
    Jing Daily
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    A spread in Bazaar China from May 2013.

    We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the rise of the independent Chinese traveler, and a new survey shows just how quickly they're turning away from group tourism and toward individualized travel experiences.

    The results of a recent study by that questioned 3,000 Chinese outbound tourists and 1,500 hoteliers clearly demonstrate that more travelers are opting for individual plans than ever before. According to China Daily:

    The website said that more than 60 percent of Chinese outbound tourists prefer to travel individually, rather than as part of a group.

    A key finding of the 2013 report "is the way that Chinese travel, which is the trend of what we call FIT, free and independent travel", John Svanstrom, managing director of Asia-Pacific, told China Daily in Shanghai.

    The hoteliers interviewed confirmed the trend, saying 70 percent of their Chinese guests are alone, compared with 50 percent in the previous survey.

    In addition, while these FIT travelers still love shopping, they’re also becoming increasingly interested in a culturally enriching, all-encompassing travel experience.

    While shopping continues to take up a fairly large share of Chinese tourists' expenditure, Svanstrom said spending on meals, hotels and sightseeing is quickly catching up.

    "The Chinese market has more experienced travelers, who have made enough trips to Hong Kong and Macao and bought enough watches and bags. They now want to experience the beaches, the temples ... some exotic culture and culinary things," he said.

    This point is further iterated by the chart below, which shows that shopping is no longer the number one popular activity for Chinese travelers overall, but rather comes behind both sightseeing and dining:

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