Understanding Chinese travellers & intermediaries

Consumer tastes and behaviours are changing and the Chinese middle income holiday-maker is increasingly choosing holidays for many reasons other than purely for shopping and sightseeing.

Also the internet is playing a greater role as Chinese travellers increasingly opt for self-organised travel. The new Chinese middle income tourists are more internationally aware, experienced travellers and well-educated. They often rely on social media to collect information, and are increasingly comfortable to book their own flights and make their own accommodation arrangements. These trends will create more opportunities for lesser-known destinations that have not attracted much Chinese attention so far.

General advice

  • Mandarin (also known as Modern Standard Chinese or Putonghua), the sole official language of China and Taiwan and also one of the 4 official languages of Singapore, is widely spoken in mainland China with many different accents due to the vast number of local dialects.
  • Simplified Chinese is the official title of the written characters used in public media
  • In general people from the different regions often speak in their own dialect out of preference, but will also understand and speak Mandarin
  • If your particular market comes from Hong Kong, Macau, or the Guangdong region in the South of China they will more likely prefer to speak Cantonese and write in Traditional Chinese and you should adjust your language availability accordingly
  • English is taught in schools from the age of 10 and many young people will have some understanding and use of some level of English, whereas older visitors are less likely to have any English language skill and benefit from translations into Chinese
  • Affluent visitors, businessmen and students from China will be well used to high levels of technology and are increasingly discerning with increasing exposure to foreign goods and services
  • Top fashion and luxury brands are popular, but travellers are consistently seeking value for money too and will have carried out extensive background internet research
  • Comparatively few Chinese own an international credit card and are used to paying by Union Pay, (a debit card used extensively in China) or by cash
  • There are 1.1bn cell phone users in China of which 750m are mobile internet users
  • China has the largest online population with 550m internet users of whom 80% are under 39 and 70% are city dwellers - internet access and Wifi is very important to Chinese visitors
  • International travel is gaining popularity amongst China’s middle class. As a result Chinese visitors like to take many photographs of all their experiences to share online with friends and colleagues back home
  • Currently, about half of Chinese visitors book through a travel agent and half directly with the carrier - more affluent Chinese tend to prefer to research potential travel destinations for themselves.

Take a look at our Chinese language toolkit (PDF, 537KB), which contains a load of useful phrases and templates to help welcome Chinese visitors.

Also note that whatever your sector, you will find doing business with Chinese visitors a whole lot easier if you are able to accept Union Pay, the main payment card used by Chinese nationals. MoneySwap can help you with this, and offers GREAT China Welcome members a preferential rate.