About 40% of Chinese individuals intend to spend more time browsing social media, 25% for actively posting and 31% will be reading more online reviews/blogs about product/trends prior to this pandemic. But, one of the main barriers of resurgence of the Chinese travelers is the anti-Asian/anti-Chinese racism. With COVID-19 being declared as a ‘Chinese virus’, racism fears are bound to happen and hence, social media’s role will be crucial in battling this negativity for travel resurrection. Engaging on platforms such as TikTok, Weibo and WeChat will act as driving forces to battle anti-Asian/anti-Chinese racism fears, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Johanna Bonhill-Smith, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, says: “The year 2019 saw Chinese travelers as the world’s largest outbound source market and GlobalData’s adjusted forecasts see similar levels of recovery in 2021 – 166 million international departures are forecast for 2021 compared to 165 million in 2019.”
GlobalData’s latest China consumer recovery survey week 2 (24th – 28th June 2020) found that social media activity has increased for Chinese individuals – many are spending the same time on social as prior to the pandemic but a vast number have increased their time.
WeChat and Weibo are the largest social media platforms within China. Weibo had around 420 million users in March 2020 according to china internet watch, a digital media company on China digital trends. Pre-pandemic, more Chinese millennials were already turning to Weibo for trip planning. The ease of multi-media sharing, livestreaming and community building offered individuals a clear insight into a destination and the activities and experiences available.
Over the recent years, tourism boards across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have all launched campaigns and partnerships with Sina Travel (Weibo’s travel media brand) which supports travel brands through a series of free and paid promotions.
TikTok, the video sharing social networking site, is another platform that has gained greater traction during this pandemic. All three platforms mentioned undoubtedly have more untapped marketing potential for Destination marketing organisations (DMOs) and as global travel restrictions are easing, social media engagement will be critical to reform trust and help lead to travel recovery across the globe.