In conjunction with the Chinese Lunar New Year, Wego’s local market experts in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore today shared their specialist market insights. As we welcome the Year of the Horse, they reveal the current trends influencing travel to and from these major hubs.
Newly appointed Market Development Manager for Wego China, Zhao Tang, says much has been dependent on changing government legislation.
“Flight delays in China have caused a lot of issues in the country but the government’s implementation of new policies in July last year has successfully put a stop to many problems,” Tang said. “Several new northern and eastern domestic flight routes have been optimised in a bid to alleviate the congested airspace.”
China’s aviation regulations have been loosened somewhat also which will result in more airlines entering the industry, ‘including privately owned companies and low cost carriers’, from next year, says Tang.
“Flying between China and the rest of the world will only become more and more convenient,” he added. “With this new growth and legislation China’s market will open further allowing foreign airlines and their Chinese counterparts far more access to second tier cities.
As an example, Tang offers the newly opened routes between Doha and Chengdu with Qatar Airways which began in September 2013. In addition, since late December Sichuan Airlines now flies from Chongqing to Sydney, saving a great deal of transit time for travellers enabling them to avoid the busy hubs of Shanghai and Guangzhou.
“Taiwan and Hong Kong are still the most popular destinations for Chinese mainlanders, however internationally we expect extensive growth as a greater choice of cheaper flights become available and foreign countries welcome Chinese travellers by improving their visa services.”
Chinese users of www.wego.cn have a penchant for island resorts selecting Bali, Phuket, and Kota Kinabalu as their favourites. “Both Indonesia and Thailand provide visa-on-arrival facilities and Malaysia offers a simplified visa application process and 120 hours visa free transits which has also helped make these destinations so popular.”
The additional new Chinese tourism law governing travel agencies came into effect in October and Tang believes the increased fares for quality overseas tours will encourage more travellers, especially the younger generation, to undertake more trips, especially backpacking.
“Although there won’t be a major shift from package tours to free-and-easy trips, with the relaxation of visa restrictions in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, more Chinese visitors will travel to these regions,” he concluded.
“During 2013, Bangkok and Hong Kong were the most popular cities visited by Singaporean travellers due to short travelling times and the strengthening Singapore dollar against the baht and the HKD,” said David Lai, Wego’s Market Development Manager for Singapore and Malaysia.
“Leisure travellers are value-driven and seek offers and deals that are relevant to them,” he said. “At www.wego.com.sg we are also seeing more business travellers attracted to the expanding product range, routes and frequency of flights offered by the budget airlines.”
“Singaporean travellers are well fed with promotional offers by LCCs as they aggressively compete for market share. There are many places to look for a good deal, however the solution to find and compare fares among various airlines on one single site, which Wego has pioneered since 2005, is one that is unique to this region.”
This year Lai expects a greater interest and visitation to Malaysia, especially Johor. “Johor has grown in popularity for Singaporeans, especially with the addition of a number of family oriented attractions and theme parks such as Legoland, Hello Kitty Land as well as the shopping opportunities at the Johor Premium Outlets.”
“Myanmar is capturing the attention of Singaporeans, and both business and leisure travel to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, continues growing, beginning in earnest in 2012. TigerAir launched daily flights from Singapore in October 2013, and we’ll be watching closely as Wego’s flight search now provides airfares from all carriers offering direct flights to Yangon from Singapore.”
Taiwan and Hong Kong
Much is changing in Taiwan travel industry as Wego’s Market Development Manager for Taiwan and Hong Kong, James Huang points out.
“Taiwan has established its first local budget airline – co-funded by Tigerair and China Airlines, which is estimated to begin operations at the end of 2014,” he relayed. “Also, TransAsia, another major Taiwanese airline will launch its own budget airline carrier and while relatively late in terms of national LCC launches in Asia, it’s great to see them entering the market now.”
A growing trend in younger generation Taiwanese planning and booking individual trips without the assistance of an agent has seen many jump online and appreciate the ease with which you can now book travel through www.wego.tw and www.wego.hk.
“Many find cheaper alternative airfares than what are sometimes offered in packaged tours,” said Huang. “The Chinese mainland remains the greatest source of inbound travellers to both Taiwan and Hong Kong, with government policies becoming far more favourable for individual travellers. Residents in 49 mainland cities are now able to travel individually to Hong Kong, and for Taiwan this now applies to 26 cities.”
“There’s been tremendous growth in Hongkongers travelling to nearby countries such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea; while long distance travel to the USA and Australia has enjoyed a mild increase. Hong Kong Express officially launched their LCC service last year and with the clear trend in additional LCC growth in Asia, we can expect more frequent short-term travel to both South East and North East Asian destinations,” he concluded.