Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Tourism

Chinese Cite Financial Impact From Covid for Not Wanting to Travel Abroad

7 days ago

Chinese travelers cite financial constraints over the last three years as the leading reason for not wanting to travel abroad even as China decided to end its zero-Covid policy by easing travel restrictions, according to a report.

Chinese marketing solutions firm Dragon Trail International published a report on Thursday following a survey of more than 1,000 Chinese travelers between January 4 and 7 to gauge the consumer sentiment around outbound travel.

More than one-third of travelers said they would be staying at home because of time constraints, or because of the inconvenience of applying for a passport or visa.

China had stopped issuing passports at the start of the Covid pandemic in early 2020. Following the easing of restrictions, the administration had said it would start taking passport applications from January 8.

Even as more than 60 percent of survey respondents said they wanted to travel outside of mainland China this year, travel spending will be somewhat constrained for many in the aftermath of Covid.

Around 45 percent of those surveyed said they would keep travel budgets within $3,000.

In 2019, Chinese tourists took 150 million trips overseas per year while spending $255 billion.

Of those who plan to travel overseas, 71 percent said they would do so for 5-10 days – a point to consider when creating travel products for the Chinese market in 2023.

Another interesting insight that the survey highlights is the increasing relevance of social media platform Xiaohongshu, more popularly known as the Chinese version of Instagram, not just for travel inspiration, but also for planning.

Skift Megatrends 2023 has also highlighted how short-form video content has become such a dominant format, particularly for destination storytelling.

Recovery of outbound travel in China is expected to pick up in the second half of the year with July witnessing a strong comeback.

The survey expects a bumper 8-day Golden Week holiday from September 29-Octover 6 for mid-autumn festival and China’s National Day.

However, Chinese travelers will be travelling closer home as the most popular outbound destinations in 2023 are all in Asia with Hong Kong leading the way, while Thailand is by far the most popular foreign country.

Online Travel

Trip.com Group Taps $1.5 Billion Loan Tied to Green Targets

2 months ago

Trip.com Group said on Friday it had tapped a $1.5 billion sustainability-linked loan facility, meaning that the financing terms link the debt’s interest rates to the Chinese online travel giant’s performance against specific environmental targets.

The Shanghai-based company will use three-year dual-tranche term loan facility to refinance some of its debt, and the rest for general corporate purposes.

The move appeared to be the first time a major online travel player adopted green finance. Last year, a shareholder initiative prodded Booking Holdings to do a climate change report. The report came out this year. In October, the company said its Booking.com brand would add emissions estimates to bookings soon. Trip.com-owned Skyscanner has estimated flight emissions for consumers for a few years.

Climate-related risk is on investors’ minds as they look at their portfolios. For travel in general, the sustainability-linked bond may provide more flexibility for investors worried about this issue, said Leslie Samuelrich, president of Boston-based Green Century Capital Management. Sustainability-linked bonds are different from green bonds. They set macro targets for a company, while green bonds commit to specific projects.

The investment concept is growing fast, Samuelrich said. Last year, lenders issued $103 billion in sustainability-linked bonds to companies across various industries. The year before that, it was about $12 billion.

In April, Ascott Residence Trust issued a sustainability-linked bond — apparently the first in the hotel sector — worth about $143 million ($200 million Singaporean). Ascott Residence Trust has committed to a sustainability performance target of greening half of its total portfolio by 2025, and its interest rates would essentially rise on the loan facility if it fails to meet the target.

The process remains murky and slow burn, though. There’s a debate about measuring the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to the climate emergency. IFRS Foundation, the international accounting standards-setting body, has this year been working on setting standards for emissions-focused reporting. Their work, and the work of other organizations, will adjust how investors evaluate climate risk — a knotty task inviting skepticism from some critics.

Side note: Trip.com’s chief commercial officer Schubert Lou will talk about the international division of Trip.com Group at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai on Dec. 14.

Online Travel

Trip.com Jumps on Buy Now Pay Later Bandwagon

3 months ago

China’s Trip.com has struck two new partnerships, covering the UK and Asia Pacific, to give customers the opportunity to delay or spread out payments for their purchases.

In Asia Trip.com has joined forces with Atome, while in the UK it will use Klarna.

Trip.com bookers in the UK will see Klarna as an additional payment option when they arrive at check-out, where they’ll be able to choose one of three payment options: pay the full amount immediately, pay the full amount within 30 days, or pay in three installments over 60 days.

Trip.com’s Atome partnership will first only be available in Singapore, before other Asia Pacific regions in 2023.

In the face of a squeezed household budgets, buy now pay later schemes are becoming more popular. They tend to be common when buying bigger ticket items, like a vacation, but even food delivery platforms are looking to split payments for customers.

Klarna claims its short-term, interest and fee and fee free credit products deliver positive outcomes for consumers, with extremely low default rates of “well below 1 percent”.

“Klarna assesses a consumer’s ability to repay on each purchase, taking a real time view of someone’s financial circumstances which means using Klarna is never guaranteed,” it said.The company restricts the use of its services if consumers miss a payment to prevent debt building up.

Trip.com offers 1.2 million hotels and flights from 480 airlines.

Business Travel

Trip.com’s Business Travel Revenue Down 46 Percent

4 months ago

China’s ongoing lockdowns are weighing heavily on Trip.com’s business trip bookings.

For its second quarter results, corporate travel revenue was $31 million, which is a 46 percent decrease on the same period in 2021. It was also 5 percent lower than the previous quarter.

The company cited “continued disruptions resulting from the Covid-19 resurgence in China,” in its results, published this week.

Just weeks ago, Shenzhen, the country’s fourth biggest city, went into lockdown.

China’s zero Covid stance is impacting other corporate travel agencies, including American Express Global Business Travel. “China used to represent 5 percent of sales for international travel. That market is still potentially at zero today. When it opens up, that’s 5 percent,” said CEO Paul Abbott last month.

China’s subdued international airline market was also one of the reasons global international traffic remains down by nearly a third versus 2019, according to Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association.

In June, Trip.com said it would target “lower tier” cities across China in a bid to grow its share of the corporate travel market.

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