The Chinese Tourist Academy (CTA), along with the leading Chinese online booking agency CTRIP, have recently released the most popular destinations for the national holidays in February and October.  The main outbound destinations were Hong Kong, Seoul, Phuket Island, Bangkok, Bali, Maldives, Singapore, Taipei, Jeju Island and Tokyo. The results were published in Chinese and translated by COTRI, the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, based in Heide, Germany,and Beijing.

Hong Kong and Seoul were among the top choices because of the short distance and low flight fares. The average consumption of mainland tourists taking the Hong Kong duty-free shopping tours organized by CTRIP, was estimated to be between 5.000 and 6.000 RMB (590-710 Euro).

Three factors are boosting the outbound market, according to COTRI: the appreciation of Chinese Yuan, the loosening of the visa restrictions and the opening of new air routes.

Travel to Europe and the U.S. is becoming more popular, while in Southeast Asia, regional travel is also on the uptake, including more individual trips. The opening of new direct air connections to destinations like Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa and Mauritius are helping these destinations to become new popular sites for the February “Golden Week.”

Group tours to Japan have increased, but still have not reach the level they had before the earthquake. In 2011, Japan has loosened the restrictions on individual travel visas, so the number of tourists going on individual visits has increased. The tourists who have reserved individual tours by CTRIP now make up 50 percent of the total travelers.

For Taiwan, 2011 witnessed the first “Golden week” after individual tours to Taiwan had been authorized by Chinese authorities. As a result, the number of CTRIP individual tourists leaving from Shanghai to Taiwan has doubled. Most are young people interested in sightseeing.

In 2011, both inbound and outbound tourism has been on a growth course, COTRI stated. The number of tourists, as well as the economic impact from tourism, has continuously increased. Compared to traditional sightseeing tours, leisure vacations are becoming more mainstream in China with individual and in-depth tours as the preferred choices.  Chinese consumers are paying more, but also expecting better quality, according to COTRI.

Domestically, during the national holidays, the tourism is concentrated in western China provinces such as Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan or Sichuan. In eastern and southern China, cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Xiamen, Sanya and Qingdao are the most popular destinations. In all destinations, however, the number of individual tourists has grown substantially.