With the relaxation of China’s epidemic prevention and control policies, the long-stifled desire for travel has ignited the enthusiasm of Chinese people for outbound tourism, and China is witnessing a boom in overseas travel.

According to Ctrip’s data, on the second day after China announced the easing of travel restrictions in late December, outbound flight bookings increased by 254%; as of February 28, bookings for outbound travel during the May 1st holiday in 2023 increased nearly 17 times compared to the previous year. McKinsey predicts that by the summer of 2023, the number of Chinese tourists traveling abroad will recover to about 50% of pre-pandemic levels.

The most popular outbound travel destinations in the first half of 2023 are, in order:

  • Hong Kong (China)
  • Macau (China)
  • Japan
  • Thailand
  • France
  • South Korea
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • The United Kingdom
  • Singapore

Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Malaysia are the top five popular destinations for visa applications during the summer. However, compared to short-haul trips to nearby destinations, long-haul travel is more constrained by visas and flights, and its recovery is slower.

According to Mastercard’s statistics, post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourists show a stronger willingness to spend, with the average budget per person increasing from 34,000 yuan to 40,000 yuan, a growth of 16%. At the same time, the average travel duration has also increased, from 9 days to 11 days.

Chinese tourists

What is the profile of the Chinese tourists abroad?

To attract Chinese tourists, you must understand their preferences. In terms of cities, tourists from first and second-tier cities account for over 80% of the outbound travelers.

  • Regarding age groups, those between 21 and 45 years old show a strong inclination for outbound travel post-pandemic.
  • When it comes to education and income levels, 75% of Chinese tourists traveling abroad hold a bachelor’s degree, and over 50% of them earn an annual income exceeding 360,000 yuan.
  • In terms of travel duration, over 40% of Chinese tourists spend about a week abroad; around 23.8% have a two-week travel period; and approximately 24.2% have trips lasting over two weeks but less than a month.
  • Among surveyed Chinese tourists who had previous outbound travel experience before the pandemic, 92% are planning to travel abroad again in 2023. Moreover, travelers with higher income and more frequent outbound trips before the pandemic show a stronger willingness to go abroad again.

Chinese toursts

What do Chinese tourists like to buy overseas?

In 2019, Chinese consumers accounted for about 40% of global duty-free spending, and duty-free shops in Japan, South Korea, Dubai, and Thailand were among the important shopping channels.

In December of last year, following China’s announcement of resuming international tourism, LVMH Group’s stock price rose by 2.43% the next day. This also proves the undeniable luxury consumption capacity of Chinese consumers.

However, due to the incomplete restoration of flights and the high prices of airline tickets, along with currency fluctuations, the cost of shopping abroad has also increased. Therefore, many Chinese luxury consumers choose to turn to Hainan’s duty-free shops for luxury purchases. However, for some local tourist destinations where luxury product prices are lower and the assortment is richer, once flight prices drop and exchange rates stabilize, the enthusiasm of Chinese tourists for shopping abroad will certainly return.

In addition to luxury products and fashion brands, Chinese tourists also greatly enjoy buying local specialty products, such as Japanese and French health products, local handicrafts, and specialty foods.

Paying for experiences has become a new trend for Chinese tourists’ overseas consumption after the pandemic. Compared to their previous enthusiasm for buying consumer goods, luxury products, and fashion brands before the pandemic, Chinese tourists are now more willing to pay for experiences. Rather than focusing primarily on shopping during overseas trips, Chinese tourists, after the lifting of pandemic restrictions, prefer to enjoy a more leisurely travel experience.

Chinese tourists’ favorite overseas activities include visiting museums, art galleries, and local cultural performances. Additionally, a considerable number of tourists also enjoy visiting characteristic local buildings, taking wedding photos in front of local iconic attractions, and tasting local cuisine. In summary, Chinese tourists after the pandemic seem to prefer experiencing local culture and atmosphere, and deriving experimental pleasure rather than material enjoyment.

Chinese tourists buy luxury products

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Which payment methods do Chinese tourists use when traveling abroad?

Chinese tourists mainly use credit cards, Alipay, cash, debit cards, and WeChat Pay when traveling abroad. 87% of the respondents have used bank cards overseas, 9% of Chinese tourists have used WeChat Pay, and 31% have opted for Alipay. 

With the popularity of mobile payments in China, Chinese consumers also prefer to use these convenient and secure payment methods abroad, avoiding the need to carry too much cash. On some travel guides posted on social media, bloggers also specifically indicate which stores accept WeChat or Alipay.

The importance of digital marketing before Chinese tourists arrive at their destination

For Chinese travelers, visiting Europe, the United States, or other countries requires obtaining a visa. Due to the longer visa processing time and the need to present convincing travel plans and provide flight and hotel bookings to visa officials, most Chinese outbound tourists book their flights and accommodation and plan their itineraries one to four weeks in advance.

While obtaining a visa can be an obstacle for Chinese tourists, for businesses looking to attract these tourists, the fact that travelers plan and book their accommodation in advance means that successful pre-marketing efforts can ensure a guaranteed flow of customers.

Chinese tourists rely on social media to make purchasing decisions

In China, social media plays a crucial role in consumer shopping decisions, and it is an important way for Chinese travelers to learn about foreign attractions and plan their travel itineraries without leaving their homes. From devising travel routes to deciding where to eat and shop, Chinese consumers are very keen on basing their own travel plans on the experiences of others.

For a typical Chinese independent traveler, the journey involves:

  1. Searching for tourist attractions on social media platforms (such as Douyin, Xiaohongshu, Mafengwo), checking travel guides, and reading reviews on nearby restaurants and hotels.
  2. Visiting comprehensive online booking websites like Ctrip to access relevant information and make hotel reservations, ticket purchases, etc.

Therefore, if you want to attract Chinese independent travelers, you must ensure that your products or services are recommended in posts that catch the attention of Chinese travelers when they are planning their trips, and that you become part of their travel itinerary. It is difficult to count on Chinese tourists to change their travel plans at the last minute and visit your store or decide to stay at your hotel once they are on site.

How to attract Chinese tourists through digital marketing on social media?

Photos, videos, music, and texts are all effective ways to capture the attention of potential consumers in a short period of time. Different Chinese social media platforms have their own characteristics and target audiences, so you need to develop corresponding digital marketing strategies based on your target audience.

Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book)

Xiaohongshu is a user-generated content community mainly focused on visual content and texts, and it is predominantly popular among women. Users are generally aged between 20 and 40, with a high standard of living and strong purchasing power. On Xiaohongshu, many Chinese tourists not only refer to travel itineraries, store evaluations, and hotel reviews but also search for information related to visa procedures. As a result, Xiaohongshu has become an essential platform for many outbound travelers. For brands, collaborating with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) on Xiaohongshu and leveraging their influence is one of the most effective ways to reach potential consumers.

Douyin (TikTok)

Douyin is a short video community. Unlike sharing travel guides, KOCs (Key Opinion Consumers) on Douyin share more of their own travel experiences. In China, the influence of KOLs cannot be underestimated, but KOCs also represent a significant force. Compared to promotional content from KOLs and brands, some Chinese consumers prefer to follow KOCs with fewer followers, as they believe that such content is more authentic and trustworthy.

If you want to attract Chinese tourists to your hotel, attractions, or restaurants, collaborating with amateur bloggers is a good choice. You can work with them to publish compelling videos without needing to overly emphasize your advantages, as the video itself serves as your best calling card. This implicit recommendation method can provide a better experience and be more authentic and credible.


Mafengwo is a platform dedicated to the field of travel. On Mafengwo, users can post longer travelogues, share travel itineraries, and thus, this platform is more suitable for detailed introductions of attractions and sharing travel experiences in the form of lengthy articles. Brands can collaborate with travel bloggers and cleverly incorporate their services or attractions into the valuable content they share. Unlike social media platforms like Douyin (TikTok) and Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), Mafengwo also collaborates with hotels, airlines, ticket agencies, and travel agencies, providing consumers with a one-stop travel experience. Consumers can complete all stages, from getting inspired to making purchases, on the Mafengwo platform.

However, with Xiaohongshu becoming the mainstream platform for travel inspiration, Mafengwo is facing the threat of user and blogger attrition. In digital marketing, it is essential not to rely solely on Mafengwo as a marketing platform. Instead, a comprehensive approach should be taken, considering other platforms and channels, and utilizing the advantages of each platform to reach Chinese tourists in a more extensive and precise manner.

How do Chinese tourists book flights, hotels, and attraction tickets abroad? 

Compared to booking on platforms like Airbnb, airlines’ official websites, or hotel websites, Chinese tourists prefer to make multiple reservations on integrated travel platforms such as Ctrip, Tongcheng Travel, Fliggy, etc.

To attract Chinese tourists to your hotels or attractions, it is important to cooperate with major travel platforms to ensure your establishment appears on these sites. This will help attract more independent Chinese tourists, increasing your booking and occupancy rates.

Of course, you can also consider collaborating with travel agencies or tour guides to include your hotel, restaurant, or even shopping mall in organized travel itineraries. This will bring you a steady and stable stream of customers.

For many users, there is not always a direct link between the source of inspiration and where the booking is made. Social media platforms such as Xiaohongshu, Douyin, and even Mafengwo are just mediums for Chinese consumers to obtain information. Even though these platforms also offer purchasing options, consumers tend to prefer well-established and trusted travel booking platforms like Ctrip, Fliggy, Qunar, and others for making their purchases.

Therefore, if you want to attract Chinese tourists to your attractions or hotels, it is essential to collaborate with social media influencers to conduct effective marketing campaigns and encourage them to visit well-known and reliable professional travel platforms to make their purchases. The two go hand in hand: generate interest and collaborate with integrated travel platforms to provide a reliable purchasing channel.

However, for offline stores or restaurants, it is sufficient to collaborate with KOLs or KOCs for digital marketing campaigns on social media. In fact, if Chinese tourists discover that your establishment is collaborating with travel booking platforms, it could create a sense of mistrust. Therefore, it is important to pique the interest of Chinese tourists through social media and provide them with payment methods they are familiar with, without the need to collaborate with travel booking platforms.

STAiiRS can help you attract Chinese tourists

In conclusion, understanding the purchasing habits and channels of Chinese tourists and adapting to cultural differences are key to attracting more Chinese visitors. STAiiRS is a French company specialized in digital marketing services with extensive experience in the Chinese market. STAiiRS can assist you in selecting suitable social media platforms and partners, conducting targeted digital marketing campaigns, and helping you successfully promote your products or services, attracting more Chinese tourists to learn about your offerings before they arrive at their destination country, and even complete purchases.