For the first time, Chinese travelers are preferring to visit overseas destinations to ring in the new year. Domestic destinations dominated the top 10 list on the hotel booking website Agoda in previous years, holding four of the top 10 spots last year compared to only one this year. The reasons why have as much to do as much with Chinese executives taking longer paid leave as they do with exotic winter destinations successfully wooing China’s adventure-hungry travelers.
As the New Year holiday is much shorter than others in China, travelers there have traditionally opted for short-haul destinations rather than long international trips. But this year, many outbound tourists took additional paid time off to join the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in order to visit to long-haul destinations like Germany and Australia.
In 2017, the top two destinations for New Year’s travel were the China-based cities Guangzhou and Shanghai, but those cities fell completely out of the top 10 in 2018, according to Agoda, and were replaced by Tokyo and Bangkok, respectively. The lone remaining domestic location, Hong Kong, retained its spot as the third most popular destination.
In all, Japan grabbed four of the top 10 destinations for New Year’s revelers in 2018, while Thailand is home to three. Taipei and Seoul were the other destinations on the list, ranking fifth and sixth respectively.
Japan has become a popular choice for Chinese tourists recently, particularly in the winter when the country offers snowy activities like skiing as well as hot springs. Thailand’s popularity with tourists has rebounded thanks to the country’s temporary offer of visa-free entry for Chinese nationals.
As we move into 2019, it’s likely that Chinese travelers will continue to frequent short-haul destinations during the New Year’s week. Whether domestic destinations can return to the top 10 list will be determined by how much outbound travelers enjoyed their time at these international destinations, and whether their word-of-mouth campaigns will continue to boost their popularity in the future.