Croatia and Malta are growing in popularity during the golden week break
Author: CSEBA / South China Morning Post
5th October 2019
BEIJING - Chartered flights and niche destinations such as Croatia and Malta are growing in popularity as Hong Kong falls out of favour with mainland Chinese holidaymakers over the National Day “golden week” break.

Japan has overtaken Thailand as the most searched overseas destination on the website of travel agency Ctrip, followed by Malaysia, the United States, Singapore, Australia, Macau, France, Italy and Russia.

Within the mainland places such as Beijing and Shanghai continued to be among the most popular searches but Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, is a fast-growing term, especially among people in Shanghai and Guangzhou.

“It could be that tourists want to see autumn leaves,” a Ctrip spokesman told the South China Morning Post.

October 1 marks the start of a week-long break on the mainland when millions of Chinese take the chance to travel. This year, an estimated 800 million people are expected to go on trips in China or overseas, about 10 per cent more than last year.

The country’s motorways are expected to be jammed from about 2pm on Monday, reaching a peak at around midnight, and again from 10am Tuesday, according to web mapping service Tencent Map.

Ctrip said people heading overseas were increasingly seeking out new destinations, with bookings to places such as the Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, Malta and Cambodia growing by 45 per cent this year.

“As Chinese people travel outside the country more and their experience of travel grows, many are more willing to go to smaller eastern European countries, such as the Czech Republic,” the spokesman said.

“Popular movies also have a strong influence. Many young people are willing to travel to see where films are shot, such as Croatia, one of the locations for Game of Thrones.”

Other noticeable trends this year include more people travelling with pets, by train and on chartered flights. The site said it sold 60 per cent more European train tickets and 10 times the number of train tickets for Japan for this golden week compared to last year. The most popular routes in Asia were Tokyo to Kyoto in Japan, and Seoul to Busan in South Korea.

Hong Kong protests leave ‘golden week’ tourist boom in tatters as visitor arrivals during Chinese holiday period are set to be slashed by a third
Thousands of users also chose chartered flights, a service Ctrip introduced in September.

Ji Yu, head of chartered flights for Ctrip said most people thought chartered flights or helicopters were something only millionaires could afford, but in the internet age, they had become cheaper and more accessible.

“In the internet era, consumer needs vary from person to person, especially in terms of travel. There are products on the market to satisfy each customer’s personal needs.”

Among the more popular chartered routes were from Beijing or Shanghai to Tokyo, Bangkok, the Maldives and London.

More people are also going away for longer. Digital travel services giant Qunar said that 80 per cent of the travellers booking flights or hotels through its services were heading off for more than five days. And of those 41 per cent were travelling for more than a week.

Meanwhile, trips to Hong Kong have fallen substantially, with just 15 group tours expected to enter the city each day, down from 110 last year, according to the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong.

Efforts to promote Hong Kong attractions have also increased in Shenzhen in recent weeks, with advertising videos scenic spots, popular restaurants and malls in Hong Kong playing on cross-border buses. Passengers can also get discounts to some stores and services with their tickets.

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