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.

WAR GAMES

Donald Trump’s trade war is driving Chinese tourists to Europe. The U.S. was the ninth most popular destination among the four million Labor Day travelers, down from fifth last year. The slump follows the warning signs of October’s Golden Week in which the U.S. slid from fifth to tenth in the list of China’s leading overseas destinations. Jane Sun, Ctrip’s executive officer, is clear for the reasons behind the data, “People like to travel to countries that welcome them… if they are not going to the US then they are going to the UK, Europe, Australia, or New Zealand … they’ll find an alternative.”

SWEET ESCAPE

The Landmark London, a five-star luxury hotel, is pioneering a China-centric strategy. Aside from hiring Chinese-speaking staff and a Chinese sales representative, the hotel offers guests a range of mobile payments, including WeChat Pay — the only London hotel to do so. General manager, Andrew Batchelor, discussed the hotel’s Double Happiness campaign in a recent interview, “[it] offers eight reasons to come to Marylebone and eight reasons to stay with us here at the Landmark — with eight of course being the Chinese lucky number.”

TRAINING DAY

Hong Kong Polytechnic University has launched a new course “China Tourism Training,” an online training program hoping to become the gold standard for tourism service providers. The university has partnered with the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute and will offer five different tracks for industry service providers; hospitality, destinations, retail, attractions, and transportation. With an anticipated 180 million outbound trips in 2019, the need for China-focused expertise within the tourism service industry is ever-growing.

PUPPET MASTER

A fox hand puppet is becoming one of China’s most prominent travel influencers. Since first airing in mid-March, the Tibetan sand fox — hu lai (胡来) — played by popular comedian Liu Yang has received hundreds of thousands of followers on Bilibili and TikTok. Produced by Be Wild Media, Hu Lai Decides to Go Travel shows the ability of humorous and original content to influence contemporary Chinese travel trends.

STEEP ASCENT

Chinese travel brands occupied strong positions in Brand Finance’s Hotel 50. The country’s growing middle class and increasing appetite for international travel saw CITS (3rd) increase its valuation by 70 percent to $3.7 billion and Happy Valley (5th), an amusement park company, increase by 97 percent to $2 billion. Wanda Cinemas placed ninth. Royal Caribbean retained its place atop the rankings in part due to its decade-long China strategy.

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