ForwardKeys, which analyses flight booking data from 17 million transactions a day, estimates the number of Chinese air travellers will be up 11% year on year in the run up to February 16, when the Year of the Dog begins. The pattern for Chinese people heading home after the celebrations tracks last year’s movement, peaking on February 21 at the end of the ‘Golden Week’ holiday.
Current bookings show traveller movements will begin to peak from February 10 to February 14, ForwardKeys said. It added that there was a notable switch towards South East Asia, avoiding South Korea, owing to the diplomatic rift there.
Japan, Thailand and Taiwan hold their positions as the top three destination countries. New Zealand tops the list of the fastest growing destinations – ahead 30% on last year, followed by Vietnam, up 22.5%, and Hong Kong, ahead by 18.3%.
Two airports in Japan see the greatest increase in returning numbers – Sapporo, up 40%, and Osaka, up 39%. Phuket follows them, with a 34% increase. Significantly, Dubai, also ahead 34%, is seeing more Chinese visitors than ever, ForwardKeys said, while Chicago topped the list of those airports benefiting from Chinese homeward bound transfers.
ForwardKeys chief executive and co-founder Olivier Jager said: “The Chinese are enjoying more and more foreign travel as their outlook becomes increasingly international. It means that businesses have an excellent opportunity to provide services and goods to a growing Chinese clientele that is increasingly demanding and affluent.
“Purchases made en route play a big part in Chinese activity when travelling, which is why our latest figures will be of particular interest to global and duty-free retailers.”