Thailand, Singapore top Chinese tourists’ ‘golden week’ list as Hong Kong falls out of favour

Extended National Day holiday also sees a sharp rise in demand for tailor-made holidays, according to industry survey

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 7:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 October, 2017, 10:51pm

More Chinese are opting for tailor-made holidays rather than group tours or independent travel for the National Day “golden week” break, according to an industry survey.

About 11 per cent of holidaymakers booked custom holidays over the eight-day break this year, compared with less than 1 per cent in 2016.

For those travelling overseas, Thailand topped the list of international destinations, followed by Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.

Hong Kong, traditionally popular with mainland visitors, was just sixth on the list of offshore destinations, followed by Taiwan. Hong Kong hotel operators said bookings were strong this year, although younger travellers were often choosing to spend just a few days in the city before leaving for other destinations.

The biggest loser in the foreign destination popularity contest was South Korea, which failed to make the top five after ranking first in the category a year ago. Beijing banned package tours to South Korea in March following Seoul’s decision to deploy a US anti-missile system.

Younger people accounted for the largest proportion of respondents in the survey, which was conducted by online travel agency Ctrip and the China Tourism Academy, a government think tank.

A total of 60 per cent of those polled were aged between 19 and 45, compared with 61 per cent aged between 21 and 55 last year.

Besides China’s metropolises, this year’s most popular domestic holiday spots included the resort cities of Dali, Hangzhou and Guilin.

The survey found that more people were also travelling with friends over the break, with 22 per cent heading off with their buddies this year compared with 13 per cent last year.

Up-and-coming “alternative” overseas destinations included Morocco, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and Finland, according to the survey.

The domestic holiday rush has already led to traffic jams and travel delays across the country.

In Guangzhou, nearly a thousand passengers missed their flights on Sunday due to a traffic jam on the airport motorway, according to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. In east China’s Jiangsu province, police deployed drones to help clear minor road accidents and get a bird’s-eye view of conditions that was then beamed to about 1,000 patrol cars, Xinhua reported.

Top international golden week destinations

1. Thailand

About 70 per cent of Chinese tourists travelling overseas during the golden week are heading for Asian destinations, with Thailand accounting for 20 per cent of the total. The country has long been popular with Chinese tour groups, due in part to its affordability.

2. Japan

Chinese tourists have become so well known in Japan for their spending sprees on consumer and luxury products that the Japanese have created a term for it: bakugai, or “explosive buying”. Apart from Tokyo’s department stores, the country’s other top attractions include Mount Fuji and the northern island of Hokkaido.

3. Singapore

Singapore is also a top shopping destination for Chinese travellers, and a popular pit stop on group tours of Southeast Asia.

4. Vietnam

Convenience and affordability have rapidly increased Vietnam’s popularity among Chinese holidaymakers in recent years, with a record 2.7 million mainland travellers heading there last year. Popular spots include the coastal resort cities of Da Nang and Nha Trang.

5. US

Chinese tourists are the highest-spending visitors to the United States, but they trail in overall numbers behind those from Canada, Mexico, Britain and Japan.

Top domestic golden week destinations

1. Shanghai

Shanghai claims the number one spot for Chinese destinations this year, with attractions like the Bund and the Oriental Pearl Tower drawing thousands of tourists daily. Family favourite Shanghai Disneyland also topped last year’s list of the most popular domestic tourist attractions.

2. Beijing

The country’s capital remains a perennial favourite, with the Palace Museum regularly appearing on the list of China’s most-visited domestic attractions. Other highlights include the Great Wall, the historic Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square.

3. Shenzhen

Visitors are drawn to this modern hub for its plentiful shopping options, theme parks and tourist resorts.

4. Guangzhou

This port city in the heart of the Pearl River Delta is home to a wide range of attractions from the futuristic Canton Tower to the Zaha Hadid-designed Guangzhou Opera House.

5. Chengdu

Chengdu is famed for its giant panda research base and Mount Qingcheng, one of the most important centres of Taoism in the country.