Fliggy is the travel platform of Alibaba Group, one of the world’s biggest online retailing platforms. Fliggy is very popular amongst Chinese consumers, providing them with a 360-travel service from booking travel and accommodation to unique experiences all through one mobile app. In this interview with Forward_, Ada Xu, Fliggy’s EMEA Regional Director – who will be speaking at the Forward_MAD conference in October – tells us about travel trends in China.
The travel industry in Western countries and other parts of the world is recovering after COVID, how is the recovery going in China?
China was the first country in the world where the travel industry recovered due to strong domestic demand, while other countries were still in lockdowns. China’s travel recovery started in May 2020, but continued to be influenced by COVID spikes, as each was controlled region by region. Meanwhile, domestic leisure travelling is continuing to recover – driven by strong interest from Chinese consumers, who use any opportunity they can to travel.
Until 2020, Asia, in general, and China, in particular, were the main source markets for tourism in many countries around the world, are Chinese travellers interested in travelling abroad? What are their favourite destinations now?
Chinese people love to travel. Before the pandemic, those who loved to travel short haul would often take four-hour flights to destinations in the continent, including South Korea, Singapore and Thailand. Beyond that, the US and Europe were highly popular destinations amongst Chinese tourists.
Since 2020, China’s borders have been closed which has meant Chinese consumers have had to travel domestically, visiting different local regions, and experiencing each region’s unique specialities first-hand.
In May 2020, to keep the strong link between China and Europe, we created a series of livestreaming events called “Fliggy Virtual Tourism Series”, where we virtually visited world-famous cultural institutions, including the Louvre Museum, the British Museum, the Colosseum, Château de Versailles, Museo Nacional del Prado, Casa Batlló in Barcelona, and more. Because of innovative initiatives like this, Europe remains a favourite destination amongst Chinese tourists, and I’m working to ensure that this continues.
What other travel trends is Fliggy seeing amongst Chinese travellers?
As travelling abroad has been suspended since 2020, we have taken it upon ourselves to import several exciting ideas from other countries into China.
For example, Fliggy organized a Desert Hz Music Festival inspired by the famous music festival in 2021 in Ningxia province. The music festival is held in the desert with an area of over 47,300 square meters. It is a wild music event with a luxury camping feel, which has attracted a lot of young people. There are many new tourism experiences being introduced.
We also launched a classic train experience, as well as another role-playing event. In the absence of travelling abroad, we want to remind Chinese consumers of the joys that come with learning about other cultures by bringing international experiences to China.