CHINESE travel to the Philippines is expected to remain sluggish during the upcoming Golden Week national holiday, but they will be staying longer and traveling in smaller groups.
In an email to the BusinessMirror, Olivier Ponti, Vice President-Insights for ForwardKeys said, as of September 15, “Forward bookings from China to the Philippines during the upcoming holiday period are down by 44 percent compared to 2019 levels. Among the travelers, those planning stays ranging from 6 to 8 nights have emerged as the most popular choice, constituting 50 percent of all travelers. This figure has increased by 4 percentage points compared to 2019.”
ForwardKeys, a travel data and analytics company, said total outbound bookings from China as of September 15 for the Golden Week travel period (September 23 to October 8) were 39-percent lower than the levels of 2019. ForwardKeys chose a longer period for the analysis “as there was a shift in the travel patterns of Chinese outbound travelers in that they are beginning their trips earlier to avoid the crowds and are also more open to staying longer at their chosen destinations.”
Ponti also noted, “Chinese travelers show an increased desire for flexibility in post-Covid travel, preferring smaller group sizes and more personalized itineraries. When looking at the number of passengers per trip, we find that 31 percent of travelers are solo passengers, marking a 4-percentage point increase from 2019.”
The Golden Week, from October 1 to 8, celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China and is usually considered a peak time for travel for Chinese nationals.
South Koreans still top arrivals
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is currently beta-testing an electronic visa (e-visa) platform in Shanghai to ease the tourist visa application for Chinese nationals bound for the Philippines. The new platform was launched amid heightened national security concerns from the local intelligence community, who prefer Philippine embassies in China to conduct a more thorough assessment of visa applicants along with face-to-face interviews.
A ranking government source told BusinessMirror the Department of Information and Communications Technology likewise had security concerns over the e-visa platform, which it had rushed to complete for the DFA, to appease the Department of Tourism (DOT), which had been pushing its goal of attracting 2 million Chinese tourists to visit the Philippines this year.
Data from the DOT showed there were 184,171 tourists from China from January to September 18, 2023. That country ranked fourth among the top source markets for tourists after South Korea, which reached 1 million; the United States at 661,903; and Japan at 213,046. After China, tourists from Australia came in fifth at 179,282; followed by Canada at 159,681; Taiwan at 140,787; United Kingdom at 111,324; Singapore at 103,239; and Malaysia at 69,156.
Meanwhile, Chinese travelers to Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and Macao have already surpassed the travel levels seen in 2019 for the Golden Week period, according to ForwardKeys.
In terms of Chinese travelers’ plans for 2023, South Korea tops the wish list of intended travel destinations for the year, chosen by 10.4 percent of respondents in a ForwardKeys survey. “This is a particularly positive sign for Korea’s inbound Chinese tourism recovery, now that group travel has been allowed for the first time since 2017. Europe remains by far the most coveted region for long-haul tourism [chosen by 34.4 percent of travelers who intend to make an outbound trip still in 2023], with Iceland, emerging as a dark horse destination thanks to trending travel content about Icelandic volcanos on Chinese social media platforms earlier this year,” said the company.
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