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Published on Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chinese travelers starting Internet revolution



Just a year ago, Chinese travelers could not do much online except conduct research. Buying travel was almost exclusively an offline activity. But that’s all changing quickly.
 


A growing number of the 404-million Internet users on the Chinese mainland are now making travel purchases online. And that growth will accelerate in the coming years, according to iResearch, which will lead to a strong surge in Internet outlets.
 


“And iResearch estimates that revenue from the online travel service market will more than triple between 2009 and 2013,” the company says.
 


The number of China’s outbound travelers is expected to reach 52 million this year, up 7 percent year-on-year, the China National Tourism Administration forecast.
 


From January to May this year, China’s outbound travel tourists totaled 26.8 million, up 19 percent over the same period last year, according to the report posted on the CNTA’s website.
 


The report attributed the outbound tourism boost to stable development of China’s economy and the appreciation of the yuan against the US dollar.
 


The company also predicts that by as recently as next year, 20 percent of China’s travel market will be web-based.
 


That’s a startling change from 2009 when less than 15 percent of China’s US$58 billion in travel bookings were transacted online, according to PhoCus Wright’s Emerging Online Travel Marketplace in China.
 


Two major reasons for the change: online buying in the past was difficult, and travelers preferred face-to-face transactions with travel agents.
 


Though online booking is still in an early stage, the tools that support it have been developing rapidly in anticipation of the shift.
 


“Chinese consumers are quickly becoming empowered to find and share travel information online. Tools like metasearch engines and online travel agencies are now widely used,” according to PhoCusWright.
 


What does the move toward greater online distribution mean for suppliers, and how can travel industry players capitalize on the rise of the social media-savvy Chinese consumer?
 


The 2010 China Travel Distribution Summit in partnership with PhoCusWright -- set for Sept. 15-16 in Beijing -- will address these and other issues.
 


By David Wilkening


 

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  • Old story

    While the research and numbers might be new, it is old hat that the average Chinese traveller is incrasingly making online purchases. This is apparent from the success of companies such as ctrip and elong.

    By Marishha Thakur, Thursday, July 22, 2010

  • Old story

    While the research and numbers might be new, it is old hat that the average Chinese traveller is incrasingly making online purchases. This is apparent from the success of companies such as ctrip and elong.

    By Marishha Thakur, Thursday, July 22, 2010

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