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Soaring Demand for Outbound Travel: Chinese New Year 2024 Witnesses a 388% Surge in Orders, Customized Cruise Tours Take Center Stage
The 2024 New Year's holiday witnessed a surge in China's outbound tourism market, with a staggering 388% increase in orders. Customized travel experiences led the consumption trend, driving a festive frenzy across popular destinations like Hong Kong and Macau.
During the New Year's holiday in 2024, China's outbound tourism market experienced a renewed surge, with customized tours leading the way in consumer preferences. According to projections from the China Tourism Academy, the recovery of the inbound and outbound tourism market in 2024 is expected to accelerate, with an anticipated total of over 264 million trips and international tourism revenue surpassing $107 billion USD. Statistics from the National Immigration Administration revealed a 4.7-fold increase in the number of people checked for entry and exit during the 2024 New Year's holiday compared to the same period in 2023, now back to the levels of 2019.
The popularity of outbound travel is rapidly rebounding, with a 388% year-on-year
increase in outbound travel orders during the 2024 New Year's holiday. Data from various online travel platforms indicated that domestic travel bookings more than doubled during this period. Ctrip's "2024 New Year's Cross-Year Travel Report" revealed a 388% increase in outbound travel orders, with varying degrees of rise in per capita spending on high-end resorts and customized trips. Orders for trips to Hong Kong during New Year's skyrocketed by 603%.
Similarly, Tongcheng Travel's report highlighted historically high order volumes for its main business during the 2024 New Year's holiday. Winter-themed trips like ice and snow tours, hot spring getaways, and winter escapes gained significant popularity compared to the previous year. Mafengwo's big data showed a substantial increase in the popularity of "medium- to long-haul trips" lasting 5-8 days during the New Year's holiday, up by 178%.
Fliggy's "2024 New Year's Holiday Travel Brief" reported a threefold increase in outbound travel bookings during the New Year's holiday compared to the previous year. Bookings for medium- and long-haul trips more than doubled, exceeding the number of travelers during the same period in 2019. Destinations like Hong Kong and Macau saw booking volumes triple, outpacing the national average growth rate. Popular overseas destinations for the New Year's holiday included Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, the United States, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, France, and the United Kingdom.
Qunar's travel data indicated that hotels in Hong Kong and Macau with views of fireworks reached peak booking levels a month in advance. Specific locations, such as Hong Kong Central Pier, Wan Chai Golden Bauhinia Square, and coastal sea-view rooms in Tsim Sha Tsui, were particularly popular. Meanwhile, tourist demand for landmark view rooms near Senado Square, Avenida de Sagres, and the Macau Tower in Macau reached the highest levels.
Tuniu's travel data showed a 253% year-on-year increase in the number of users traveling on the first day of the holiday. Domestic long-haul trips dominated New Year's holiday travel consumption, accounting for 53% of total trips. Additionally, nearly 16% of users opted for overseas destinations, embarking on international journeys to places like Hong Kong and Macau. Apart from these two destinations, island tours in Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand), hot spring tours in Japan, winter escapes in New Zealand, and ice and snow tours and Northern Lights tours in Scandinavia were also popular choices for travelers.
The number of outbound trips increased significantly year-on-year, accompanied by a significant decrease in international flight ticket prices. With the ongoing recovery of international flights, countries like Thailand and Malaysia, popular outbound destinations, successively waived visa requirements for Chinese citizens, accelerating the recovery of outbound tourism. Ctrip's data during the New Year's holiday indicated that popular outbound destinations included Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Macau, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Hong Kong and Macau Emerge as Top Picks for the New Year's Holiday
In the first post-pandemic New Year's holiday allowing international travel, many tourists opted for outbound trips to ring in the New Year. Ctrip's data revealed that outbound travel orders from mainland China during the New Year's holiday almost quadrupled, with an 11% month-on-month increase in outbound flight bookings and a staggering 265% year-on-year growth. Fliggy's report highlighted a more than threefold increase in bookings for destinations in Hong Kong and Macau, surpassing the national average growth rate.
On January 1st, the Tourism Bureau of the Macao Special Administrative Region announced that approximately 28.23 million visitors entered Macao in 2023, averaging 77,000 visitors per day, reaching 70% of the 2019 levels. Furthermore, on December 31, 2023, a record-breaking 175,030 visitors entered Macao, marking the highest daily number of arrivals in 2023 and post-pandemic times.
Reports from various online travel platforms consistently ranked Hong Kong and Macau among the top five outbound travel destinations during the New Year's holiday. Ctrip's report indicated that orders for trips to Hong Kong during the New Year increased by an astonishing 603%. Additionally, destinations such as Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom also proved popular during the New Year's holiday. The primary demographics for outbound travel during the holiday season were individuals from the "post-90s," "post-80s," and "post-70s" generations, constituting 40%, 30%, and 14% of the total, respectively. Family travel, especially with children, accounted for 27% of the bookings.
Customized Cruise Tours: A New Trend in International Travel with a 231% Monthly Growth in Bookings
As major cruise lines began reopening routes from China, the long-awaited resurgence of cruise tourism became a highlight of the 2024 New Year's holiday. Data from Tongcheng Travel indicated a 63% increase in the popularity of international cruise tours during the New Year's holiday. Ctrip's report revealed a remarkable 231% month-on-month growth in cruise bookings during the holiday, with tickets for the maiden voyage of China's first large-scale cruise ship, the "Explorer Dream," selling out on the Ctrip platform one and a half months in advance.
Notably, as the demand for personalized and customized travel experiences continued to rise, an increasing number of travelers chose to enlist professional travel designers to craft unique holiday journeys. Ctrip's report highlighted a 290% year-on-year growth in orders for customized tours during the New Year's holiday, a 25% increase compared to the same period in 2019. The average cost of a customized tour order was approximately 16,700 yuan, with per capita spending reaching around 3,200 yuan, reflecting a 12% year-on-year increase.
Among the travelers opting for customized tours during the New Year's holiday, those in the 30-35 age group constituted the highest percentage, followed by the 25-30 age group. "Post-90s" individuals emerged as the main force behind the trend of customized tours, accounting for nearly 25% of users. Approximately 25% of users embarked on family trips, with every fourth group of orders representing a family with children. Moreover, 14% of orders were for trips with elderly family members.
The most popular outbound destinations for customized tours during the New Year's holiday in 2024 included Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bali. Ctrip's report revealed that during the New Year's holiday, the furthest destination chosen by a user was Buenos Aires for the New Year, with the earliest booking made in April 2022.
According to data from during the New Year's holiday in 2024, nearly 40,000 passengers traveled to Thailand by civil aviation.On January 2nd, Thai Prime Minister Sita announced in Bangkok that Thailand would implement a permanent visa-free policy for Chinese citizens starting from March 1, 2024. Following this announcement, the popularity of searches related to "Bangkok" on Mafengwo surged by 200%, and Tongcheng Travel's platform recorded a 158% increase in searches for Thailand tourism.
Analysts from Tongcheng Research Institute suggested that the current outbound tourism market is rapidly recovering, and Thailand is one of the most anticipated outbound destinations for Chinese tourists. The permanent mutual visa exemption policy released positive signals for tourism and business exchanges between China and Thailand, promising to boost travel and economic ties.

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