Key Chinese holidays that European businesses need to be aware of (Part 1)
Chinese tourists visiting Europe have more than tripled within the past 10 years and the number of Chinese citizens that hold a passport are still less than 10% of the total population of China. With the standard of living growing in China, the tourism industry will undoubtedly grow exponentially in the future. Furthermore, The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, have agreed upon making tourism between Europe and China more efficient, experience-oriented, and authentic with shared market data, especially for some regions that are not well known by Chinese tourists.
In order to better receive Chinese tourists it is very important to know about some of the major holidays in China. Although holidays such as New Year’s Eve and Christmas have become more popular for Chinese tourists in the recent years, Chinese tourists regard the National Day holiday or the Chinese New Year as the most significant. One thing to note is that many Chinese holidays are dictated by the lunar calendar.
Definitively, peak travel occurs on holidays, but foreign businesses are not well-aware of Chinese holidays. When would be the most appropriate time of year to be expecting an influx of tourists? What are the modes and behaviors of these tourists?
Below is an explanation of some of the most important holidays in China:
January 1st & Christmas
The western New Year is also celebrated in China, with one day off for January 1st. This is usually celebrated with family at home, and with Chinese New Year so close, it is not a popular holiday for travel.
Due to a small Christian presence, Christmas is not widely celebrated in China. However, many Chinese people find the festive western Christmas atmosphere, which is nowhere to be felt in China, appealing and are curious about experiencing the holiday in a more authentic environment. Alternatively, if time and money allow, some Chinese tourists will travel abroad because Chinese winter time brings also about coal burning for energy production and heating. This makes the air pollution harsher and China a less healthy place to during the winter.
Chinese New Year (upcoming: February 4-10, 2019)
Chinese New Year, also know as the first “Golden Week” is by far the most important holiday of the year. It is mostly associated with family, prosperity, health, and luck. Many families would visit their hometown or even travel abroad with their relatives during this time. Over the past three years urbanization and digitization of the economy has changed how the Chinese use this holiday. It has become less traditional and an abundance of Chinese tourists are taking their families abroad instead of grouping together in their hometowns. More than 6.5 million Chinese tourists went abroad for this holiday just in 2018 alone and it will continue to grow as the middle class grows larger.
Labor Day (upcoming: May 1, 2019)
International Labor Day, celebrated on May 1st is now more popular as a domestic travel holiday, though 41% of travelers using OTA Tuniu (online booking service) and 7% of respondents in the Hurun report expressed that they planned go abroad during this time. Additionally, a survey by the China Tourism Academy which was conducted in 60 cities across China estimated that 25% of the total 149 million Chinese citizens were planning to visit foreign countries.
Dragon Boat Festival (upcoming: Jun 7-9, 2019)
Held between late May and mid-June, Dragon Boat Festival is only a one-day holiday for Chinese workers. Good weather conditions may affect Chinese tourists; it is becoming increasingly popular to go abroad during this time, even to far destinations. In 2017 there were 2.71 million trips abroad, amongst the most popular destinations were Italy and France. It’s also worth noting that this holiday is increasing its popularity as a summer-time travel period.
Although there is no national holiday during the summer, this is a popular period for Chinese families and graduated students to travel. It was also the third most popular travel period in the 2017 Hurun Report, with 17% of the high net-worth travelers planning to travel in the summer.
In 2016, there were nearly 6 million Chinese tourists during the Golden Week. Moreover, it was a popular time for families to travel with about 53% of Chinese families planning to travel in 2016.
National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival (upcoming: Oct 1-7 & Sep 22-24, 2018)
The two most important Chinese holidays for travelling abroad, especially for long trips. China’s National Day is the second “Golden Week” which starts on October 1 each year (fixed) and the Mid-Autumn Festival which is based on the lunar calendar is celebrated with one day off usually around September or October. The two holidays can sometimes merge into an eight-day holiday (weekend included).
Outbound tourism during these holidays has increased rapidly in recent years. In 2016, there were nearly 6 million Chinese tourists during the Golden Week. Moreover, it was a popular time for families to travel with about 53% of Chinese families planning to travel in 2016. Reservations can start as early as May with peak booking in August depending on the price and visa application time.
Here are some of the upcoming Chinese holidays for the next 4 years to help you anticipate and plan your business accordingly:
In the next article you can learn more about the travel modes and behaviors of Chinese travels. Please tune in next week for Part 2!