Chinese tourists are just as eager to see destinations at night as they are during the day, but it’s not wild night spots like bars and clubs that are attracting these globetrotters, it’s illuminated shows. Evening tours — defined as tours that start after 6:00 p.m. — have grown in popularity over the last couple of years, with some popular destinations offering a variety of them, according to family travel booking site Lvmama. The travel platform noted that bookings for “night tours” increased by 9 percent year-on-year in 2018, and lots of online travel agencies are starting to take notice of this emerging trend.
According to data provided by Ctrip.com International, the majority of travelers booking night tours are under the age of 35, and in a sharp travel industry trend reversal, 67 percent of those booking the tours are men. And with more Chinese travelers heading out on short trips – particularly for the upcoming four-day International Labor Day holiday that starts May 1 — these globetrotters feel the need to maximize their sightseeing time. Because of this, online travel agencies are now offering more night tours to appeal to the growing number of Chinese travelers who want to fit in as much as they can into their trip.
A search for night tours (夜游) on Alibaba’s online travel platform Fliggy returns almost exclusively domestic tours. Among the first page of results were two evening tours in Bangkok. A destination-specific search, however, returns some results for Northern Lights tours in Iceland. Tuniu offers a few evening tours, including a three-course dinner and city tour in Rome and a river cruise in Da Nang, Vietnam. But the majority of these evening tours are currently inside China, including river cruises along the Pudong in Shanghai and Pearl River in Guangzhou. There are also popular night attractions nearby, including the Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor and the light show Garden Rhapsody at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.
In other parts of Asia, night tours include stops at night markets for a taste of local cuisine. Lvmama noted that the Festival of Lights in Lyon, France, and evening tours of the Natural History Museum in London have been popular among its users. One of the most popular overseas evening tours is the Night Safari in Singapore: the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park, which opened in 1994 next to the Singapore Zoo.
Li Qiuyan, head of brand development at Lvmama, told Chinese travel media outlet Pinchain, “The development speed of the integration of culture and travel has surpassed our expectations…. The growth rate [of night tours] is extremely fast, especially for the food and culture-related routes.” Li confirmed that younger generations are more interested in cultural evening tours, and in fact, the company’s data shows that night tours are most popular among Chinese travelers between the ages of 18 and 30, who account for 34.3 percent of the market. They also noted, however, that the emerging post-’00 generation will begin to come into the market and will likely be just as interested in these tours.
Li believes that the evening tours help Chinese tourists to learn more about a destination while also increasing travel consumption in that spot, particularly spending on local products. This could be an opportunity for retailers that sit along these popular evening tour routes to attract more tourist shoppers as these tours grow in popularity.