The Chinese International Travel Monitor provides a yearly report on the preferences of Chinese tourists and the priorities of hoteliers and tourist destinations catering to them.  Although Asian-Pacific destinations still remain at the top of the Chinese traveler’s list, long-haul travel is on the rise as well. Since 2016, the US and China have jointly agreed to lift travel restrictions and extend travel visas, and this change is already having an impact. As of 2017, Chinese tourists represent the fourth-largest segment of international tourists in the United States.

What Chinese tourists want

The past year has seen several changes in the preferences of Chinese travelers. The most significant change is a drop in the number of travelers who list shopping as their prime reason for traveling. In the 2016 report, 68% of respondents listed shopping as a priority, but in 2017, that figure has dropped to 33%.

Meanwhile, more tourists are focusing on culture, heritage, leisure, and sightseeing. These are far more enjoyable when information is provided in Chinese, particularly in areas of culture and heritage.  Most tourists come from cities where air pollution has become a serious problem. Beautiful natural settings such as national parks and botanical gardens are popular as well.

The percentage of independent travelers has been increasing over the past few years, with fewer tourists (especially millennials) choosing group tours over independent planning.

How Americans can improve

According to the 2017 CITM, respondents identified key areas where they would like to see improvement:

  • Accepting Chinese payment services such as UnionPay and AliBaba. Chinese travelers think this is the second most important area for improvement, but only 18% of hoteliers offer these services, and another 18% intend to offer them within the next 12 months.
  • In-house Mandarin speaking staff. Travelers consider this a top request, but few currently offer the service or intend to do so.
  • Translated travel/tourism guides. This service is ranked number 4 by travelers but remains a relatively low priority for hoteliers and other tourist destinations.

Professional Chinese translation is needed

In 2017, the American tourism industry has been investing more heavily in Chinese media and marketing than in on-site amenities, including translation. An integrated localization plan could leverage translations of marketing content to inform travel and tourism guides or mobile apps. Guests feel comfortable when welcomed in their own language; cultural sites are more enjoyable when hosts make an effort to explain their significance. Cultural competency training also prepares staff for understanding and fulfilling the needs of tourists from overseas.

To read the full report, click here.

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