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.

It’s a new year for Chinese outbound travel, and reports on New Year’s travel trends are rolling in from various online travel agencies, all of them indicating that more Chinese tourists celebrated New Year’s abroad than they had in the past.

It’s a rosy picture to ring in 2019 with, but there’s plenty of hand-wringing among the travel industry players that depend on those outbound travelers. A trade war with the U.S., a diplomatic dispute with Canada, and an economic slowdown have affected China’s economy beyond just the stock markets. After a record-setting year for Chinese outbound tourism, the industry may need to alter its expectations this year and focus on ways to maintain the country’s unprecedented tourism growth.

China-Qatar Airline Tie-up

Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the emirate, announced on January 2 that it had purchased a 5 percent stake in China Southern Airlines, one of China’s major state-owned airlines. The investment is expected to give Qatar Airways the benefit of the Chinese domestic market as well as greater reach for flights between Chinese cities and the airline’s hub in Doha. Unlike its previous airline investments, the Qatari carrier believes this deal will become a more strategic business partnership. Qatar Airways already holds a 10 percent stake in Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.

U.S. Government Shutdown Affects Chinese Tourists

It may not be a major winter travel destination, but Alaska gets its share of Chinese tourists, and what should have been an exciting time for a winter trip to Alaska is now a nuisance for hundreds of Chinese travelers. A tour through Denali National Park, for instance, was shortened to a mere 15 minutes as tourists took photos of the sign informing visitors that the national park was closed due to the partial government shutdown.

Cambodia Benefits from Regional Declines in Chinese Arrivals

Chinese travelers avoided a few short-haul destinations last year, particularly Thailand due to the Phoenix boat accident that killed 47 Chinese tourists. And while destinations like Thailand and South Korea sought to rectify the situation, Cambodia saw a 23 percent year-on-year increase in Chinese arrivals to the famed Angkor Wat complex in 2018. The Angkor Archeological Park welcomed a total of 1.12 million Chinese tourists during the year.

Older Tourists May Be Key to Growth

It could be time for destinations to pay less attention to millennial and Generation-Z travelers and spend more money wooing older generations. At least that’s what a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences report would indicate. As the average age of Chinese citizens rises, there will be more elderly travelers with ample time to see the world. Those retiring in the next 10 years will be more keen on traveling abroad than previous generations who didn’t have as much travel experience prior to retirement.

Laos to Kick off Tourism Year with China

One of China’s southern neighbors hopes to bring in more tourists dollars this year. The Laotian Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism submitted a plan for the country’s Visit Laos-China Year 2019 to be approved by the government. The plan includes recommendations such as either reducing visa fees or full visa waivers for Chinese tourists to increase the number of arrivals from China.