Chinese take 140 million outbound trips, OTAs adapt apps to new rule, and more
Nearly 7 million Chinese will travel abroad for the upcoming Chinese New Year; $12.4 billion is to be pumped into civil aviation infrastructure this year; and China Railway will add 3,200 kilometers of high-speed rails in the country.
China’s immigration authorities processed 650 million passengers in 2018, up by 9.9% year over year. Among them, Chinese nationals made 560 million inbound and outbound crossings, an increase of 12%; 95.328 million foreign citizens crossed the China borders, up by 11.6% compared to the year before.
Chinese travelers made 140 million outbound trips last year, up 13.5% from 129 million trips in 2017. On their trips to 157 countries and regions, Chinese travelers spent more than USD 120 billion, compared to the USD 100 billion in 2017, according to data from the China Tourism Academy.
About 400 million Chinese have travel plans for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, among them nearly 7 million will travel abroad, according to a Ctrip report. People from over 100 Chinese cities had booked travel to nearly 500 destinations in over 90 countries and regions. Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore are among the most popular destinations while Nordic countries, the United Arab Emirates and Spain are seeing the highest increase in the number of Chinese visitors.
Aviation and railway forecasts
A total of 85 billion yuan (USD 12.4 billion) is anticipated to be pumped into China’s civil aviation infrastructure in 2019. As for a long-term plan, the civil aviation sector will see an investment of over 1.3 trillion yuan in 198 key projects in the next 10 years. Last year, 81 billion yuan was invested in the sector.
The administration has set the goal of handling 680 million passenger trips in 2019. Last year, the civil aviation industry handled 610 million passenger trips, 11.4% more than that of the previous year.
Beijing Daxing International Airport, to be completed on June 30 and open on September 30, will accommodate 72 million passengers annually by 2025 and is expected to become one of the world’s busiest airports upon completion.
In accordance with the relocation plans released by China’s aviation regulator, foreign airlines, together with those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, can choose whether they will move into the new Beijing airport. Chinese carriers, except China Postal Airlines, will have to use only one airport. The relocation will proceed from the winter of 2019 to the winter of 2021. Certain foreign carriers such as Delta Air Lines, Korean Airways and Air France KLM will be based at the new hub.
China Railway expects to add 6,800 kilometers of rail tracks in the country this year, 70% more than its plans for last year. Some 3,200 kilometers of the new rails will be for high-speed connections. Though it didn’t disclose the size of the investment on the new tracks, the firm mentioned that it had invested nearly RMB 803 billion (USD 117 billion) on railroad construction nationwide last year, far more than the RMB 732 billion proposed at the beginning of the year.
Ctrip and Tuniu have restructured their app formats to make bookings more transparent, as the companies are working to comply with China’s new E-commerce Law enacted on January 1. The process of buying train tickets had formerly included certain add-on features by default, requiring buyers to de-select unwanted additions. Now, Ctrip offers three channels through which customers can choose their preferred package in advance.
Meituan has set a new industry record with over 2 million domestic hotel room nights booked on a single day on December 31, 2018, a 30% increase over the previous peak of 1.57 million hotel room nights booked on a single day in 2017. In the first three quarters of 2018, about 209.6 million domestic hotel room nights were booked on the platform, an increase of 43.8%.
Both Qunar and Meituan have been reported to have cut jobs since early December. A former employee at Qunar revealed that its Q+ project under the major accommodation division has dismissed more than 100 employees as of December 22. When asked for comments, Qunar acknowledged that the project had been closed due to poor performance, and that only 57 people had left the company. Meituan also noted that the reports about its layoffs were not true, and that only 256 people were affected.
Ctrip has invested in service robot producer Yunji Technology on undisclosed terms. The partnership with Yunji Technology marks Ctrip’s latest move in the smart hotel field, following its launch of its smart hotel solution program "EASY Stay" in March last year.
Business travel and expense management SaaS platform Cloud Helios announced that it had picked up 100 million yuan (USD 14.52 million) to work on the research and development of technologies. The funding round has Softbank China as the lead investor. Shanghai-based Cloud Helios is eyeing overseas business. Japan will be its first international stop.