Data reveals Spring Festival holiday travel trends

Forbidden City in Beijing A big data report jointly released by Ctrip, a Shanghai-based online travel agency, and Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site, reveals three features and trends of the recently-concluded Spring Festival holiday: Beijing tops the hotlist of places of departure; Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are still the most popular destinations for inbound travelers, and the Spring Festival travel rush shows a hint of reversed direction.

Outbound travel market still booming

Due to the growing middle-class, the outbound tourism market is still vibrant. Traveling abroad has become a top option for Chinese people in developed citities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu, with Beijing ranking at the top spot as the place of departure. It suggests that Chinese people in affluent areas have broken from tradition to some extent and are prone to new ways of celebrating Spring Festival. Instead of the traditional going back home for family reunion, they choose to take their family on a vacation abroad.

In terms of destinations, places near the Chinese mainland are the most popular. Thailand remains the most popular overseas destination on the list during this period, followed by Japan. What highlights this year’s niche travel market is the Philippines; its city, Cebu, enjoyed a 145% increase in the number of tourist arrivals, which ranks at first place on the dark horse destination list.

Big cities make hot destinations for inbound travelers

As more and more Chinese tourists opt for a foreign vacation during the holiday, another noteworthy trend is that a considerable number of foreign expats come to China to experience the Chinese Lunar New Year. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are still the top three destinations for foreign visitors, as big cities can offer a vibrant urban life experience and convenient transportation. But second-tier cities like Chengdu, Xiamen, Chongqing, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Changsha and Kunming also make the list due to their folk culture, unique cuisine and pleasant climate.

Reversed Spring Festival travel rush

For Chinese people, the most important Spring Festival tradition is going back to their hometown for family reunion. So usually the Spring Festival travel rush unleashes China’s largest seasonal migration of people. But according to data, this year’s travel rush shows a reversed direction, that is, a growing percentage of people chose to pick up the elderly and other family members to join them in cities to celebrate Spring Festival. Five popular destinations for this reversed travel route are Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou. The rationale behind this trend is that people can avoid the transportation peak by choosing a reversed direction.