The Chinese female traveller

With age no barrier, Chinese women are spreading their wings and spending big on travel. They are now taking the driver’s seat in making travel decisions and seeking personalised experiences. We look at some of their travel behaviours and the segments that are taking a lead on this.

 

Women overtake men

According to a 2024 Women’s Travel Consumer Insight Report released by the online travel agency Trip.com Group, average annual per capita travel expenditure for women exceeded that of men by nearly 8% in the past year. The report was based on the analysis of data recorded between Feb 20, 2023 and Feb 20, 2024. The spending power of Chinese women for travel is evident, with significant growth momentum seen in lower-tier markets.

 

Travelling for festivals

Many women are booking flights to celebrate festivals in various parts of the world for that immersive cultural experience and to soak in the local folk customs and festival atmosphere. For example, they are travelling to Nepal for Holi festival, also known as the festival of colors, and Chiangmai in Thailand to join a lantern celebration. This new wave of Chinese women travellers are now travelling to a dozen destinations at home and abroad every year on an average.

 

Non-business travel

They also travel for non-business reasons. The report said that middle-aged women born in the 1970s and 1980s accounted for 62.2% of the female travelers and were by far the main force when it comes to consumption, the report showed. Young women born in the 1990s and 2000s accounted for 28.5% of tourism spending, indicating their emerging potential as consumers. While the older generation born in the 1950s and 1960s constituted just 9.3% of female travelers, the research showed they had a strong preference for premium travel experiences.

Experiential travellers

Many Chinese women are veteran travellers who not only consider costs when choosing a travel destination, but also the experiences they can have exploring new places. They are not very picky about destinations; it’s about a particular activity or mode of travel that can provide them a different experience. They often visit the same destination several times using different modes of transportation. For example, the Eastern Oriental Express train allows them to travel from Singapore to Thailand through Malaysia, which is quite different from driving or flying there.

‘Golden Age’ for travel

Many older Chinese women believe travel is about going beyond stereotypes and refusing to follow others’ opinions, and that one must see the world for themselves, and talk to interesting people. They also use travel to pick up new skills and develop hobbies such as tennis, photography, pickleball, driving and cycling. Many believe that they are in the ‘golden age’ for travel with no parents to take care of and grown-up children, leaving them with no major family obligations.

 

High quality of travel

Many women come from ordinary families, and may cut back on unnecessary travel costs, but will not compromise when it comes to the quality of trips. For instance, they will save money if the transfer flights are cheaper than the direct ones but they won’t skimp on experiences that give them access to the typical way of life at a destination. Sometimes, they even try to find temporary jobs that provide accommodation to support their travel. Some even quit their jobs and become full-time travel influencers to satisfy my passion for travel, sharing their travel stories on social media, including on Xiaohongshu, where they started to gain a following.