The number of tourists to China saw a steady growth this year and the number of inbound trips in the first three quarters this year stood at 108.76 million, up 4.7 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The report compiled data from a travel products analysis by Ctrip Travel Agency and the World Tourism Alliance, which analyzed the behavior of inbound tourists, future trends and potential of inbound tourism in China.
China visa exemption policy
According to China's National Immigration Administration (NIA), the country has loosened transit visa exemptions, increased visa validity periods and covered areas in four administrative areas recently. With the latest exemption policy, nationals from 53 countries can apply for transit visa exemptions at 30 ports in 23 Chinese cities.
Under the 24-hour visa-free transit rule, no visa is required for international flight, ship, or train passengers who transit directly through the Chinese mainland for a stay of less than 24 hours. This policy is applicable to almost all nationalities. In case they want to leave the port for city sightseeing or transfer to another port during the 24 hours, they can apply for a Temporary Stay Permit upon arrival.
Passport holders of the following 53 countries and regions can be granted a visa-free stay up to 72 hours while transiting via certain airports including Beijing Capital Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, and airports of Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, Xi'an, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Changsha, and Xiamen:
Passengers from the above countries transiting in Guangdong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Liaoning, Wuhan, Qingdao, Kunming, and Xiamen can enjoy a visa-free stay up to 144 hours. Starting this December, transportation centers in the cities of Chongqing, Xi'an, Ningbo and Chengdu will also allow foreigners to travel without a visa for six days.
Behavioral analysis of tourists to China
The report found that tourists thinking of traveling to China care the most about destination cities, followed by accommodation, itineraries, airlines and entertainment options.
In 2019, the following cities saw an increase in popularity: Yanji, Lijiang, Zhuhai, Weihai, Nanning – which could be linked to the launch of new flight routes, high-speed railways and more convenient public transportation.
Tourists aged 25 to 44 accounted for 49.9 percent of those visiting to China, more than any other age group, followed by tourists aged 45 to 64 who accounted for 28.4 percent and 15 to 24 years old who made up 13.7 percent of the total.
When categorized by how they reached China, tourists entering China on foot ranked the highest, including a large number of cross-border moves by neighboring countries as well as visitors from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Macao Special Administrative Region.
Visiting scenic spots remains on top of the to-do list for travelers to China, followed by experiencing local culture and watching entertainment and performances.
According to Ctrip, the most popular cities for international travelers are: Zhuhai, Fuzhou, Ningbo, Dalian, Yiwu and Wuxi.