Connect with us


China Unleashed: Sabre reveals key outbound Chinese travel insights for 2024



The travel industry has been waiting. Waiting for Chinese travelers to return to the global tourism stage in a significant way. While there was some recovery in 2023, outbound travel from China remained largely in the role of supporting actor rather than the main character. Now that we’re well into 2024, that is changing.

Sabre has taken a deep dive into latest travel trends and trips booked from mainland China in our new report China Unleashed, which looks at whether the wait is truly over, whether Chinese travelers are back traveling the world in large numbers, and if their travel habits are changing. Our analysis looks at trips booked (up to March 31, 2024), for travel during 2024.

Our key findings include:

  • Travel originating from mainland China has increased by close to 400% overall globally for 2024, with some destinations seeing surges of more than 2,000%;
  • Chinese travelers are taking advantage of reciprocal visa-free agreements with countries around the world, but they aren’t limiting where they travel;
  • Airfare prices are down, making travel more affordable for Chinese travelers;
  • Fastest growing routes globally for Chinese travelers in 2024 include Macao, Australia, Japan, Russia, and Bangladesh.
  • Chinese travelers are once again embracing Business Class travel, and demand for Premium Economy travel is increasing;
  • Outbound airline capacity is up by more than 3000% on some routes as airlines look to meet demand.

What does this mean for the travel industry?

When you consider that Chinese travelers are renowned as big spenders – making 155 million international trips and collectively spending some $245 billion pre-pandemic – it’s certainly heartening to see there is a significant appetite for outbound travel from mainland China in 2024.

There are significant peaks during the year which surpass pre-pandemic travel booked, or come close. During Chinese New Year, for example, travel booked from mainland China to other countries in the Asia Pacific region was at 106% of 2019 levels. Meanwhile, there is also strong demand for travel during the fourth quarter of 2024, driven in part by the upcoming Golden Week holiday, with Chinese travelers confident to book well in advance for later in the year. According to the China Tourism Academy, the number of outbound trips from China will reach 130 million during 2024.

So, while 2023 was the year of re-opening for China, 2024 is the year Chinese travelers are really embracing global travel again in significant numbers.

What’s important now

The travel industry needs to ensure it can deeply understand what travelers from China want, where they want to go, how they want to get there, and the experiences they want to have when they reach their destination.

Those who really make the time and investment to understand and deliver these needs will be the ones who win the hearts, minds, and spending power of Chinese travellers in 2024, and into the future. When you consider that only around 13% of Chinese citizens currently have passports, but increasing numbers are applying for a passport with each passing year, the importance of Chinese travelers for all sectors of the tourism industry can only increase.

With Chinese travelers showing clear demand and confidence in global travel for 2024, the tourism industry is surely delighted they have regained their main character energy and are ready to explore the world again.

Data sources: Sabre Market Intelligence MIDT, Sabre Market Intelligence Ticketing, OAG Air Capacity, Sabre Market Intelligence Global Demand (all data up to March 31, 2024).

Download the full report

Continue Reading