With international travel off-limits for Chinese travellers, those who are keen to feel tropical vibes, shop and switch on vacay-mode are choosing destinations closer to home. The bright lights of Macau and swaying palm trees of Hainan are a remedy for the cabin fever Covid19 has induced into many households across China.

Sanya versus Haikou – The appeal of Hainan

From March to May this year, both Haikou and Sanya recorded growth in air arrivals when compared to the same period in 2019. May saw the largest increase, thanks to the Labour Day holiday with Haikou up by 39% and Sanya, +49%.

All tickets issued as of 7 June for travel to Sanya during June and August are currently 33.2% ahead, while to Haikou they are currently 6.4% behind 2019’s same period.

Knowing the top key origin source markets is a way for travel retailers and hotels to re-think their promotional offers and marketing campaigns.

Looking at the main source markets, Shanghai is the top origin city for Hainan in general, with bookings increasing +154% to Sanya and +60% to Haikou.

Beijing to Sanya increased by 82%, and the bookings to Haikou remained the same as in 2019. Passengers from Zhejiang to Sanya and Haikou have both maintained double-digit growth.

The decrease in the number of bookings from Guangdong due to the recent resurge in Covid-19 cases has had a greater impact on Haikou than Sanya, being the main reason for the current delayed booking situation to Haikou.

Nevertheless, 50% of the arrivals in Haikou are from Chengdu and 46% are from Wuhan – showing that the central cities prefer Haikou over Sanya.

The glitz and glamour of Macau

Before the pandemic, Macau was usually a combined holiday destination, matched up with a few days in Hong Kong.

“People used to visit both destinations, say, for a five-day holiday. But in the pandemic era, due to safety concerns and travel restrictions, people are choosing just one single destination, and enjoying that experience at a slower pace,” says Nan Dai, China Market Expert at ForwardKeys.

During the first five months of 2021, the share of travellers staying at a destination for 3-5 nights has increased significantly, by 32% when compared to 2019. Meanwhile, there was a 3o% drop in shares of 1–2-night stays.

In fact, issue tickets have been trending up since Macau reopened to mainland China on the 23rd of Feb.

In the first week of June, issued tickets for travel from mainland China to Macau reached 48% of 2019’s level, while in general, outbound Chinese travel recovered only 4%.

When examining the top source markets, the data reveals a shocking surprise: Chengdu and Nanjing have recovered relatively quickly, reaching 60 to 70% of their pre-epidemic levels already. It appears capturing the interest of travellers from Chengdu will put you on the money as they are also keen to travel to Hainan!

“There are travellers to engage with travelling domestically in China, the trick is in knowing which audience to target and how to plan your communication strategy effectively. Our data is helpful in this way as with 59% of domestic Chinese travellers now booking their trip in under 4 days, if you can pinpoint actions at the right time, then your business should do well,” adds Dai.

At ForwardKeys, we offer real-time ticketing data showing future bookings, forecasts and shortly, traveller intent via flight searches, so tourism organisations, investors, hoteliers, and brands can view the real travel picture, from planning for a trip to the end journey.



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