Chinese tourists to hit global destinations during Spring Festival

Chinese tourists visiting the ruins of Ephesus in Turkey. (Photo/China.com.cn)

With the approaching seven-day holiday in celebration of the Chinese New Year, the world is expecting large numbers of Chinese tourists to start arriving next week.

Statistics showed that the number of booked outbound tours rose 32 percent when compared with the same period last year, even though prices also went up by 10 percent.

Thanks to the sharp increase in income and better-facilitated transportation, China has become the world’s largest outbound tourism market.

According to the China Tourism Academy, over 140 million Chinese people traveled to foreign destinations in 2018, 11 million more than the previous year. Chinese tourists have left their footprints in 157 countries, and China has maintained the largest source of outbound tourism for years.

“It’s much easier to travel to foreign countries now, and it’s not very expensive,” said Zhang Zhixia, a power supply company employee in Fuzhou, southeastern China’s Fujian province.

Now, 72 countries and regions offer Chinese citizens visa-free or visa-on-arrival options. Before this year’s Spring Festival, hot-spot destinations such as Japan and Thailand relaxed visa restrictions specifically for Chinese citizens.

From 2017 to 2018, 61.25 percent of Chinese tourists traveled to Asian countries, and 60.69 percent also went to Europe. 3.48 percent even reached the Antarctic.

Bangkok, Tokyo, and Osaka remained the hottest short-trip destinations for Chinese tourists, while London, Paris and New York were the top three places for Chinese tourists making longer journeys.

Aside from traditional hot-spot destinations, places that were not traditionally frequented by Chinese tourists are also becoming more popular. Serbia, Laos, Belgium, and Vietnam have all witnessed a growing inflow of Chinese travelers.

Insiders noted that the booming outbound tourism market would bring enormous benefits for the expansion of tourism consumption and the “going global” strategy of Chinese enterprises.

Tour guides, tour agencies, and drivers that serve Chinese tourists are predominantly from China, which significantly helps encourage Chinese enterprises, especially Chinese tour companies, to go overseas, one insider explained.

China’s Internet industry needs to shift focus to progress

A recent report said that the consumption side of China’s Internet industry is highly digitalized, with new innovative applications and new business modes continuing to emerge. However, as a whole, the industry hasn’t reached a globally advanced level, workercn.cn reported on Jan. 30.

The report on China’s Internet industry was jointly released by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), AliResearch, and the Baidu Research and Development Center.

By March 2017, only 25 percent of Chinese factories were digital, compared with around 50 percent in the United States, according to a survey conducted by Capgemini, noting that China still lags behind other countries in core areas such as intelligent connectivity, information integration, data-driven decision-making and human-robot collaboration.

The survey indicated that despite considerable investment in industrial sensor manufacturing, China still has a long way to go before it catches up with the U.S.

However, industry insiders believe that China is expected to achieve significant progress in emerging technologies, such as automated driving. Data showed that in 2017, China ranked highly on a global scale regarding the size of start-ups, investment and number of talents.

Li Shu, a global partner of BCG, said the added value of China’s manufacturing industry accounts for only 21 percent of the total production value, while the figure in the U.S. stands at 37 percent.

A survey of 148 experts in the manufacturing industry in 6 countries indicated that the Chinese experts think business opportunities are created by providing better services and products for consumers, while German experts believe only the optimization of manufacturing can do that.

The BCG report also showed that the focus in China would shift to Internet-driven industries, which will require enterprises to switch their emphasis from boosting consumption and applications to developing the upper stream of the value chain.

Virtual red envelope games heighten China’s Spring Festival excitement

(Photo/People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

The Spring Festival, China’s most important yearly celebration, is fast approaching, and mobile payment companies have once again ignited the online battle of virtual red envelopes.

With a multitude of red envelope games on offer, the amount of money being transferred among users is snowballing.

Alibaba’s subsidiary, Alipay, re-released its “fortune cards collection” game that has been successful in previous years. Participants can share a 500 million yuan red envelope if they collect all the fortune cards needed.

During the last Spring Festival season, 70 million middle-aged adults and seniors took part in the game.

Tech giant Baidu, with the help of China Central Television, will also send red envelopes worth a total of 1 billion yuan.

WeChat Pay, Alipay’s rival, kept it low key this year. The app debuted a new function that enables enterprises to customize virtual red envelope covers on WeChat Work, a professional office management platform under the WeChat umbrella.

Microblogging site Sina Weibo also joined in on the festivities. In addition to million-yuan cash prizes, it also prepared various gifts for users, hoping to gain more internet traffic, and therefore customers, through activities during the Spring Festival.

WeChat Pay was the first to launch virtual red envelopes in 2014, followed by Alipay and Weibo. So far, grabbing these virtual red envelopes has already become a social activity synonymous with the Spring Festival season.

Thanks to the popularity of virtual red envelopes, the mobile payment market has witnessed growing prosperity. Statistics indicate that total mobile payment transactions reached 65.5 trillion yuan in the third quarter of 2018.

An expert noted that this success had inspired online payment platforms to combine online and offline activities. Online promotion attracts internet traffic and attention that works as a form of advertising, the expert noted.

In today’s world, mobile payment is not only changing people’s payment methods and lifestyles, but also shifting customs.

Virtual red envelope games have created a new way of communication among friends and can enhance exchanges between family members, providing a new custom to the traditional festival.

Self-service ticket office makes Spring Festival travel rush easier

(Photo/Chinanews.com)

A self-service ticket office was recently unveiled in Nanchang, east China’s Jiangxi province, to make the Spring Festival travel rush more convenient for passengers, Chinanews.com reported on Jan. 30.

The ticket office is equipped with ticket vending machines, ticket dispensing machines, machines where passengers can apply for refunds by returning unused tickets, and other facilities that help them handle ticket services on their own.

(Photo/Chinanews.com)

Passengers require their identity cards to use these services. Another machine allows passengers to obtain a temporary ID card by typing in their ID numbers and scanning their faces.