Before a serious outbreak due to the Delta mutation, domestic tourism was booming in China.
According to a report by the China Tourism Academy, this sector is expected to reach about 4.1 billion trips with revenue 511 billion USD in 2021, up 42% and 48% respectively compared to 2020.
“Foreign travel is not recommended. The quarantine requirements upon return are very difficult. In addition, each person is also aware that they are at risk of bringing the virus back home,” Sienna Parulis-Cook, director of marketing and communications at advertising agency Dragon Trail (China), told CNN.
Many rich Chinese people turn to domestic tourism because they cannot go abroad. Photo: Marketing to China.
Looking for a new, luxurious experience
While international travel remains challenging, elite travelers are taking every opportunity to explore their homeland.
“China is so big. There’s a lot of diversity in languages, cultures and cuisines in different regions,” said Jolie Howard, executive director of L’VOYAGE private jet charter service. in Hong Kong, China), told CNN.
According to research firm Hurun Report, Sanya city (on Hainan island, south of mainland China) is the number one favorite among the elite of billions of people.
Dubbed the “Hawaii of China”, the city is home to many luxury resorts, managed by international brands.
The second most popular destination for the rich is Yunnan province, a mountainous region with ancient cities, forests and tea plantations.
Sichuan province, famous for its panda sanctuaries, national forests and local cuisine, also made it into the top five popular tourist destinations.
The rich in China are looking for new experiences in domestic tourism. Photo: CNN.
Mengfan Wang, research director of Dragon Trail in Shanghai (China) said that outdoor experiences and adventure tourism are the main trends.
High-class tourists in China differ not only in the choice of destination but also in the form of travel. Driving has become a popular way of getting around in areas such as Shanghai and Guangdong (China).
“Many people will fly to a top city (like Shanghai) and then take the self-driving route in the southwestern and northwestern regions of China,” Wang said.
Parulis-Cook, a colleague of Wang’s, said young and wealthy Chinese often travel overland in luxury cars, rent high-end campervans and go glamping at various locations. Exclusive campsite.
“This trend is influenced by social media because of the opportunity to take pictures while glamping. Many people like to pose with Fendi bags or Hermes blankets at the campsite,” Parulis-Cook added.
Meanwhile, yachts are increasingly popular in leisure destinations such as Hainan Island, a favorite among China’s elite thanks to its duty-free shopping, golden-sand beaches and lush golf courses.
According to data from Hainan Free Trade Port, the number of new yachts registered in Sanya city (on Hainan island) in the first half of 2021 has increased by 220% compared to the same period last year.
Alternatives to traveling abroad
Private jet travel is also being favored by the elite.
“We have a lot of new customers. Before Covid-19, they didn’t need to go to a private plane because the procedure at commercial airlines was very easy.
Now, they want to travel privately to be safer and faster (because they don’t have to wait for a Covid-19 test), but have access to all airports in the country. Many people even buy a private jet after a rental period,” Howard said.
Upscale travelers prefer to rent or buy private planes for convenient travel. Photo: SCMP.
L’VOYAGE’s core customers in China are still business people, but Howard has noticed a change in travel habits.
“Our clients often combine multiple jobs. For example, they might go to Sanya for a business meeting, then see family for a few days off.”
With leisure travel, Howard said rich travelers prefer to explore localities like Yunnan, Tibet or Xinjiang because they require a more time investment.
“Before the pandemic, they had alternatives abroad. But now, the elite prefer a destination with fresh air and beautiful scenery like the mountains of Yunnan. In remote, rugged areas As such, they need more time to explore, hike or experience culture,” Howard said.
Good food is an important requirement, regardless of the destination, according to Howard.
“Food is key to our customers, because the Chinese have a culture of socializing around the dinner table,” she explains.
“For example, Sichuan is an attractive destination because of its delicious food and clean methods of growing and producing ingredients. Visitors can visit an organic farm to learn how it works, and at the same time become a part of an organic farm. Go back to nature and enjoy the fresh air,” she said.
Domestic travel is still only an alternative to trips abroad. Image: CNN.
Although the rich are busy traveling around China, Dragon Trail said that demand for foreign travel has remained pent-up during the pandemic.
Parulis-Cook hopes rich and experienced Chinese tourists will return abroad as soon as it is safe, well managed and accepted by society.
“Honestly, rich people who regularly travel will hardly be satisfied with domestic destinations alone. However, current restrictions make foreign travel not only inconvenient but also lacking in awareness.” she said.
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