Who are China’s free independent travelers (FITs)? Somewhat surprisingly, FITs — defined as those who self-book itineraries and travel in groups of fewer than 10 — are most likely to be women in China, and a growing number of these travelers belong to the post-’90s and post-’00s generations, according to the 2018 Chinese Travel Consumer Report released by Ctrip.com International and MasterCard.
In 2016, 54 percent of Chinese independent travelers, according to Ctrip, were men. But the tables have turned, and now, women make up the majority with 58 percent. Not only are there currently more female FITs, but they also spend 14 percent more on average than their male counterparts, which is a major demographic shift in the profile for Chinese FITs (a growing proportion of overall Chinese travelers). However, it’s still important to keep in mind that group travel remains the more popular option for Chinese tourists.
This isn’t the first report to note that women account for a larger proportion of Chinese travel bookings. As Jing Travel noted earlier this month, a joint report on luxury Chinese travelers found that wealthy Chinese travelers are more often female. We also reported in August that a study compiled by Hotels.com and market research company Ipsos found that most of those wealthy travelers are from the post-’80s and post-’90s generations and are spending “unprecedented amounts” on luxury holidays. And now, the average age of those wealthy travelers is getting even younger.
In the first nine months of the year, post-’90s and post-’00s travelers accounted for 32 percent of all Chinese travelers, according to the report, surpassing the post-’80s generation as the largest tourist age group for the first time. The report notes that these younger travelers are of a more independent generation and they’re more willing to spend freely on their trips. Post-’90s travelers outspend their post-’80s counterparts with $818 (RMB 5,689) per trip, and post-’00s travelers spend even more at close to RMB 6,000.
These numbers, along with the rest of the findings in the report, only reflect Ctrip’s user base, but as the most widely-used online travel agency in China by far, its user base is representative of the Chinese travel landscape.
The overwhelming majority of Chinese tourist spending comes from a relatively small portion of travelers
Still, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been major shifts in the kind of experiences Chinese travelers are seeking. For example, Ctrip says that entertainment product bookings rose by 110 percent compared to last year and the per-capita spending on these types of experiences rose by 24 percent. This category includes sightseeing tours or guided visits, but also services like mobile Wi-Fi. So even if overall spending per capita by China tourists is declining, there are a substantial number of Chinese tourists spending more money on key types of experiences.