Here’s Jing Travel’s weekly guide to stories that give insight into Chinese travel trends and how they affect the industry’s main players.

As we near the end of 2018, destinations around the world are making a final tourism push, and part of that includes marketing Christmas and New Year’s events to Chinese travelers. Some holiday stops that are already popular with Chinese travelers are even improving their services by accepting Alipay and WeChat Pay in an effort to encourage Chinese tourists to spend more. It’s a simple concept, but even in an economic slowdown, making the purchasing process easier for tourists is a good way to increase sales.

China on Pace to Become Top Air Travel Market

China is on pace to become the world’s largest air travel market, despite the economic downturn. The intelligence firm Beroe Inc. noted in a recent report that China would surpass the U.S. in that category by 2020, and the news is not at all surprising considering that Boeing and others are now emphasizing the country’s growing demand for aircraft and travel-related services. The report also notes, however, that continued trade tensions between China and the U.S. could impact business travel.

Paris Welcomes Another Direct Flight from China

Xiamen Airlines introduced a new direct route between Paris and Fuzhou Changle International Airport – the second-largest city in Fujian Province – on December 11. Flights between the cities will operate three times a week with the airline’s new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the Chinese carrier will also offer customers connecting flights via Air France and other local partners to nine other European destinations.

Promoting Safety Is a Priority for DMOs

Chinese tourists consider safety to be a top priority when choosing a travel destination. This means that destination marketing organizations (DMOs) must make promoting safety a priority in their campaigns aimed at those tourists. First-time travelers are likely to be more concerned than veteran tourists, so it’s important to reassure new adventurers that those first trips abroad will be safe.

Hainan Airlines Parent to Acquire Stakes in Domestic Carriers

HNA Group, the parent company of Hainan Airlines, announced on December 12 that it would acquire stakes in two other domestic airlines. The acquisitions include a 12.18 percent stake in Xinhua Airlines for $217 million (RMB 1.5 billion) and an 8.55 percent stake in Tianjin Airlines for 163.5 million (RMB 1.13 billion). The investment in Xinhua Airlines will increase HNA’s stake in the company to 73.92 percent, while its stake in Tianjin Airlines would bring their holdings to 95.82 percent.

Some Companies Are Taking a Hit in the Tourism ‘Cooldown’

Chinese tourism habits continue to change, and many travelers’ habits are influenced by the economy. As China’s economic growth slows, tourists are expected to spend less on travel. Chinese travelers are still the largest tourism market, but they are starting to spend less money during their trips abroad, and that has hit luxury brands the hardest since they’re more reliant on travel retail. Even major travel service providers like International expect profit growth to slow.