Research and data platform Fastdata has released a report on the development of China’s online travel industry in 2020 and trends for 2021.
Domestic travel volume in China slumped 52.1% year-on-year in 2020, with only 2.88 billion domestic tourist trips and 61.1% less revenue at RMB 2.2 trillion (USD 340.5 billion). Online travel transaction volume dropped more than 50%.
However, China’s travel industry began to rebound steadily since May. In December, the number of air passengers was back to 74.5% of the same period in 2019; railway passengers and online-travel monthly active users were back to 78.9% and 92.1%, respectively.
With restrictions on international travel in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, travelers turned to domestic travel, custom trips and in-depth experience activities Consumers with higher spending power preferred small and curated group tours. Family trips were expected to continue to grow robustly this year as people are more willing to spend time with family members.
Consumers from first-tier and emerging cities remained a driving force on online travel platforms, accounting for nearly half (45.4%) of the platforms’ total bookings. Gen Y consumers (people born in 1980-1995) were leading the consumption trend, and Post-95 consumers accounted for nearly 25% of the online travel demand, according to the report.
The Chinese online travel industry was dominated by Trip.com Group’s domestic brand Ctrip, which claimed 40.7% market share, followed by like Meituan (18.9%), Qunar (17.5%) and Tongcheng-Elong (10%). Ctrip and Qunar were most favored by Gen Z users who spent more than RMB 10,000 (USD 1,542) per capita per year.
Ctrip users tend to have higher education level (some 58.9% of the active users in December have an undergraduate degree or above) and higher income than the industry average, while Meituan was more popular among users at lower income and education level (72.7% of these users don’t have an undergraduate degree). Qunar was the top choice for college students, while females aged between 30 and 40 years old formed the largest user group for Fliggy.
Short-haul trips will continue to be a primary choice for most users in 2021. The data showed that 51.2% of users would opt for destinations within three hours’ travel and 16.7% are willing to travel farther. The report projects that the number of small and private group tours is likely to double in the first half of this year compared with H1 2020.
Immersive adventure tours, theme tours and family trips are gaining popularity. Some 27.7% of users are projected to take family trips in the first half of 2021, up by nearly 30% from last year. A majority of users tend to drive to destinations by themselves.