Hotel & Tourism SMARTreport #43




Chinese tourists

in Brisbane



Increase in independent travellers and longer holidays behind outbound surge

Free independent travel, or FIT

for short, is giving a major boost

to Chinese outbound travel,

according to the latest survey by


Analysis of outbound tourism in the first

four months of this year reveals that Free

Independent Travel (FIT) grew by 12.7%.

The travel intelligence company also

attributed the rise in Chinese travellers

to the way the Chinese government has

allocated public holidays, thus creating

more opportunities for people to take

breaks abroad.

The growth is a direct consequence of “two

major trends, an increased enthusiasm

for travel independently, as opposed to

in groups, and more people are seizing

the opportunity to travel abroad over

major public holidays,” explained Oliver

Ponti, VP Insights at ForwardKeys, which

forecasts travel trends by analysing over

17-million flight booking transactions a


“It reflects a growing confidence in

doing one’s own thing”, said Olivier,

“particularly in the case of younger and

more experienced travellers.”

The trends were particularly marked

during the Chinese New Year, at the end

of January and early February, which is the

busiest time for Chinese outbound travel.

Chinese FIT outbound travel grew by

18.8% during 2019’s Chinese New Year

holiday, compared to 2018. FIT travel has

also surged over the last public holidays,

Qingming in April, Labour Day in May and

the Dragon Boat festival in June.

An increase in seat capacity has helped to

fuel the growth in travel to Europe. Over

the past year, seat capacity from China to

London increased by 24.8%, compared

to the year before, thanks to the addition

of nine new routes. Capacity to Paris

increased 8.1%, thanks to five new routes

and capacity to Rome increased 31.7%

from one new route.

In Q2 2019, 88 flights per week were

scheduled between China and the UK, up

from 65 weekly flights in Q2 2018. And

there is more to come, as bilateral trade

agreements provide for further capacity

growth from China to the UK, France and

Italy. The strong growth is being fuelled by

Shanghai, where FIT outbound bookings

for a trip between May and August were

22.4% ahead compared to the same

period in 2018, Guangzhou where they

are 28.7% ahead and eleven second tier

cities which are collectively 25.8% ahead.

This year, several countries have eased

visa regulations in a bid to attract more

Chinese visitors. Singapore now allows

Chinese travellers to enter visa-free for up

to 96 hours, either on the way to a third

destination or on the way back home

and Japan further simplified the visa

application process for Chinese students

and repeat visitors

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