Chinese travelers will be ready, but will you? So concludes the report from digital marketing agency Mailman X as it anticipates the world’s largest travel group returning in 2021/22. 

Such closing optimism jars with several of the report’s findings, including the extent to which global anti-Chinese sentiment will deter tourists from traveling abroad and a general unwillingness to spend big during a period of economic hardship. Throw in the secondary coronavirus waves recently experienced in Beijing and the northern city of Jilin and describing the ‘post-COVID-19’ Chinese traveler begins to seem more difficult.

Nonetheless, the report illustrates valuable lessons from China’s passage through coronavirus and how its travel market has responded.

Start by guaranteeing hygiene. As institutions and attractions welcome visitors back into public spaces, safety and cleanliness will be the top priority. Hand-sanitizers at the door and carefully controlling visitation are good starting points , but long-term success requires training and collaborating with all stakeholders involved. 

What’s the cost of opening at reduced capacity? During the Labor Day weekend, Chinese visitors recorded 115 million trips domestically, compared to 195 million in 2019. The fall in traffic raises a pivotal question; what does limited visitation mean for attractions reliant on large crowds? Shanghai Disneyland has offered some answers, reducing capacity to 30 percent, requiring visitors prebook tickets, and mandating face masks. Still, its profitability remains unknown.

Nature calls. Priorities have changed with outdoor travel now the top choice post-lockdown. Parks and outdoor recreation sites might consider working with platforms and regularly updating health and safety measures via social media. For transportation, Chinese travelers prefer to drive; searches for “self-driving tours”increased by 83 percent on Baidu between February and May and car rentals rose 10 percent year-on-year over the Labor Day weekend.

Lead the fight against xenophobia. Mailman X predicts xenophobia “will have a serious negative effect on popular destinations like the UK and USA”. Given cultural institutions and attractions are often at the forefront of innovation and social changes, it’s important to facilitate conversations and provide educational resources to fight this wave of racism.

Edited by Richard Whiddington