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Sunday, July 14, 2024

New trends emerge in Chinese travel to Africa

New trends emerge in Chinese travel to AfricaThe first post-pandemic Chinese travellers to South Africa arrived in March 2023. Source: Xinhua

Travel to Africa from China has almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels and visitors are keen to experience the continent. There has, however, been a shift in how the market travels, which presents numerous new opportunities for African travel operators.

This is according to Lin Yu, Managing Director of Travel World China, who provided some insights into the Chinese market during a webinar hosted by the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA).

Chinese market recovery

Yu highlighted Alipay data that indicated that expenditure during Chinese New Year celebrations in February increased by 140% compared with 2023, saying it hinted at a “burgeoning luxury travel market”.

While China’s tourism sector took longer to recover than originally anticipated, some markets were almost back at pre-pandemic levels. Yu said Africa as a whole had seen nearly 100% recovery. Key to this was the availability of international flights, which had not been a hindrance for the African market.

Yu said, for the most part, visas were not a hindrance either, with many African countries offering visa-free or landing visas for the Chinese market. She however singled out South Africa, saying that the procedure was complicated.

“It’s one of the reasons South Africa has not been performing as well as its East African counterparts,” she said.

A poll by Chinese Outbound Travel & Tourism Market ranked the top 15 African destinations that were attracting the most interest from Chinese visitors. Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco all ranked in the list, with island nations like Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles also seeing increasing interest.

The profile of the Chinese traveller

Chinese visitors to Africa were often well travelled, and viewed the continent as an adventurous frontier waiting to be discovered, Yu said.

Africa’s appeal resonates particularly with affluent travellers, who view travel as a way to enhance their social status.

Yu said for many Chinese travellers, South Africa was their first entry into African travel, predominantly because of flight connections and the diversity of tourism products. She said that many Chinese visitors returned to Africa, but not necessarily to the same country they initially visited.

“This demographic, particularly high-nett-worth Chinese travellers, represents a highly desirable market segment, making them ideal candidates for visiting Africa,” Yu said.

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