UnionPay Study: China’s Outbound Tourists All About Experience for Summer Vacations

    Chinese travelers headed abroad are increasingly interested in more than just shopping as they travel independently and spend on leisure activities in the summer months.
    Island vacations are popular for Chinese tourists, according to UnionPay. (Shutterstock)
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Finance

    Island vacations are popular for Chinese tourists, according to UnionPay. (Shutterstock)

    As Chinese travelers head abroad on vacations during the summer—the most popular time for them to travel—they’re incorporating more leisure activities into their previously shopping-focused trips, according to a new UnionPay study.

    Focused on outbound Chinese tourists’ summer vacation spending for 2015, the study by the top payment card company finds that their purchase habits are shifting “from the traditional shopping orientation” to a “combination of shopping and leisure.”

    This means that they’re spending more time and money on cultural activities and visits to historical sites while splurging more on nice hotels and service apartments over “chain hotels,” says the report. Families with seniors and small children along are particularly interested in entertainment and leisure activities, including island tours and theme park trips, says UnionPay. Traveling families “attach great importance” to comfort, with high standards for transportation and hotels. Shopping habits are becoming more experience-oriented as well, with trips to bazaars, supermarkets, and local shops. The report also finds that visiting schools abroad is an especially big priority for families traveling with college-bound teenagers.

    Like other times of the year, Chinese outbound travelers’ most popular region to visit in the summer is Asia, with Hong Kong and Macau taking the lead as the most-visited destinations. Meanwhile, Europe ranks second to Asia. Bookings continue to shift from travel agents to online as companies like Ctrip and Qunar battle for Chinese travelers’ business. As these bookings shift online, independent travel is also becoming increasingly popular compared to group travel, according to UnionPay.

    UnionPay released its findings to coincide with the launch of a new summer vacation program for Chinese travelers, which offers discounts to travelers at over 100 merchants including department stores, duty-free stores, restaurants, bookstores, amusement parks, and more in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, America, Italy, and Australia.

    As a growing number of businesses around the world adopt UnionPay in order to cater to a influx of outbound Chinese travelers, the payment company says that transaction frequency is rising abroad as the growth rate for total transactions has been faster than that of transaction amounts this year. Although luxury retailers across the world have known about the importance of UnionPay for years, Chinese tourists’ growing focus on leisure means that other businesses such as high-end hotels, tourism sites, spas, restaurants, and more must also be prepared to cater to Chinese visitors as they ditch the guided shopping tours for experiential vacations.

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