In our TripTrends series, we share the data and trends defining the global travel revival and examine the latest Trip.com data to identify the patterns emerging as travel rebounds around the world.
Here, we focus on the recovery of inbound travel to Chinese mainland following the resumption of foreign visa applications.
- International users searching for hotels in Chinese mainland on Trip.com was up 126% compared to the same period in 2019;
- Travellers from the UK and the US have shown significant growth in inbound travel to the region in the last month;
- Booking windows now revert beyond pre-pandemic levels.
An influx of bookings to Chinese mainland
It’s been a month since Chinese mainland resumed issuing all types of visas for foreign nationals, which came into effect on March 15. The widely welcomed move saw an influx of bookings, as travellers sought to rediscover China once again.
Analysis of Trip.com data shows that international travellers’ interest in Chinese mainland increased significantly in the last few weeks compared to the same period in 2019.
Looking at the travel period of 15 March 2023 to 14 April 2023, international users searching for hotels in Chinese mainland on Trip.com was up 126% compared to the same period in 2019, with a seven-fold increase on 2022 levels.
Chinese mainland hotel bookings by international travellers also followed the same trend, rising by a third (32%) compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Despite flights operating to Chinese mainland recovering year-on-year, bookings are still recovering, sitting around a quarter (26%) below 2019 levels due to constrained supply.
UK and US travellers showed an increasing interest in visiting Chinese mainland
Travellers from Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, the UK, the US, Japan and Singapore made the most flight bookings to Chinese mainland last month, confirming that pent-up demand for travel to the region is being realised.
These markets have evolved since the pandemic, with the destinations making the most Chinese mainland flight bookings in 2019 being Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Australia.
Interestingly, neither the UK nor the US did not feature in the top list for flight bookings to Chinese mainland pre-pandemic, but in the last month have shown significant growth for inbound travel to the region.
Leisure destinations are all the rage
Data shows that travellers are also keen to re-explore China’s most famous tourism hotspots, with Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou being the most popular flight destinations – the same as in 2019. The more leisure-oriented cities of Xiamen, the southeast beach city, and Chengdu, home of the Giant Panda, have also seen encouraging inbound growth, rising to fourth and fifth, respectively, as the industry continues to see growth in the premium leisure sector.
Travellers turned to last-minute bookings throughout the pandemic due to ever-changing travel restrictions, but the latest data shows this has now reverted beyond pre-pandemic levels.
Back in 2019, Trip.com users booked their hotel stays around four days in advance of their stay; however, data from the last month shows that the 2023 booking window has grown to six days, as customers gain confidence in the market and look to get value for money.
The same trend can be seen for those booking air travel, with Trip.com travellers now booking flights 15 days in advance – up from 14 days pre-pandemic.
These encouraging figures are echoed across the Asia-Pacific region, with bookings to Japan and Korea also recording strong year-on-year growth.