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ITB China: Opportunities and challenges in the Chinese travel market

Also this year the B2B travel fair “ITB China” took place in Shanghai. As already reported in the article “Hartmut Wimmer in Shanghai”, Outdooractive CEO, Hartmut Wimmer, was also there and personally got an overview of the latest trends on the Chinese tourism market. With him, he took the “ITB China Travel Trends Report” with the most important findings and forecasts for the Chinese travel year 2020.

A key word that seems inevitable when looking into the future of the travel market in China is diversity. According to travel experts, personalization and niche products are the decisive factors in attracting Chinese tourists to a destination, especially in the areas of island, adventure, culture and sports travel.

Source: ITB China 2019 Travel Trends Report


Travel offers tailored to the needs of each individual

The need for individually tailored travel and activity offers is most highly valued in the field of adventure travel. The demands on an adventure holiday vary greatly from person to person. The aim here is to meet the different needs and to have the right package in the portfolio for each target group. “[…] Travel products develop into “a la carte menus” with a multitude of options that the traveler can select or omit,” according to an interview partner.

Niche is a keyword in island travel. Overcrowded beaches, buffet food and standard programs no longer meet the demands of Chinese tourists. Rather, it is about spending time in a dreamlike environment and visiting extraordinary places. The demand will continue to increase for destinations such as Bali, Phuket and the Maldives.


Simply taking pictures is no longer enough

While travelers from China were mainly known as photo tourists up to now, the trend towards an “experience trip” will continue in the coming years. This is reflected above all in the culture travel segment. The aim is to become part of the foreign culture during the time abroad and to live like the locals. Here the experts advise to set on storytelling. Destinations that are surrounded by a story trigger a stronger bond between the customer and the destination.

The tour operators surveyed predict an increasing demand for events in both culture and sports travel. Whether art exhibitions, music festivals or traditional events such as the Oktoberfest, here too the focus is on the experience of other cultures.

When it comes to sports travel, world stars can be compared to a certain kind of travel magnet. Travelers want to experience the world of their idols up close. The biggest obstacle is usually the purchase of tickets. Individually tailored travel packages are a solution that makes it easier for Chinese guests to choose a destination.


In general, it can be said that the Chinese travel market certainly has potential that is waiting to be exploited.

The adventure, culture, sports and island travel markets are expected to grow significantly in the coming years. However, an adjustment of the services offered to the needs of travelers is required.

The experts see challenges above all in the clearly growing quality demands of the guests from China. The change from “seeing” to “experiencing” is already noticeable.

The pronounced security concerns also demand extended services from the destinations. At the same time, they also open up the opportunity for providers of professional tour guides and specific equipment to penetrate the Chinese market more strongly. If a destination is also recommended by experts and opinion leaders, it will be at the top of the priority list of Chinese travelers.

The detailed report can be downloaded here.