The traditional Chinese tour groups, with a flag and similar hats for all, are being replace by more independent travelers, tells China tourism expert Roy Graff in the Atlantic. “Attitudes are changing.”
Yet perhaps the biggest reason that more Chinese people are traveling independently abroad is that it has simply become a lot easier to obtain visas. As late as the 1980s, only Chinese people on business and official trips were permitted to travel overseas, with government approval needed for every single visit. Then, in the 1990s, the government introduced the unique Approved Destination Status System, which paved the way for group travel abroad. Soon thereafter, China’s neighbors began issuing individual “leisure visas” and visas on arrival, but most Western nations were reluctant to follow suit.
“Consulates resisted issuing individual visas because of the perceived risk of illegal immigration. With the group visas, the tour operator could be held responsible if someone didn’t return to China,” explains Roy Graff, the managing director of the tourism consultancy China Contact.
But with the rise of affluent Chinese tourists, attitudes are changing.
“The watershed moment was in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics. These events put the wealth of China on the global stage,” says Graff, adding that “Western countries realized that the segments of the population that can afford to travel abroad are already part of a developed economy and aren’t likely to overstay their visas and disappear.”
Earlier, at June 20, Roy Graff addressed at the China Weekly Hangout the question ‘what do Chinese tourists want?’ Roy Graff of ChinaContact discussed the increasingly diversifying market of Chinese tourists. And yes, there is no longer one answer for basic questions. Moderation by Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau.
On Monday 11 November shadow banking expert Sara Hsu will be discussing the latest developments in the +China Weekly Hangout and give her view in an upcoming hangout on what we can expect in the months to come, and hopefully has already some idea of what the Third Plenum will lead to. Broadcasting time will be 5pm CET, 11am EST and (unfortunately) midnight at Beijing time (but you can watch the session also later). Questions will be asked by +Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau. There will be no other guests in the hangout – unless you have some very good arguments. But questions can be asked during the event, from our event page here. Before you can also leave questions or remarks here in the comments, or at the event page.