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Smaller groups, longer stays, driving trips increasing for people entering their golden years
Older Chinese consumers, especially those who were born in the 1950s and 1960s, are increasingly opening their wallets to spend on high-end travel options, travel operators said.
More of them also are planning trips by themselves and driving to reach their destinations, they said.
This year, as of October, there was a 22 percent year-on-year increase in the number of customers aged 60 or higher registered with Shanghai-based Trip.com Group, the nation's largest online travel agency. Their travel bookings jumped by a total of 37 percent, the company said.
The spending of older travelers has been solid. The average per capita spending of those born in the 1950s and 1960s has been growing faster than that of travelers born in the 1990s and 2000s, Trip.com found.
Premium travel packages, such as tailored tours to the Xinjiang Uygur and Tibet autonomous regions, with price tags over 6,000 yuan ($942) per person, have been popular among older travelers.
Previously, many older Chinese travelers preferred large-scale group tours. As the COVID-19 pandemic started coming under better control in the nation, more elder travelers showed a preference for tailored trips, private group tours or going to tourism destinations with families and friends, the company said.
The changes were clear this year in periods such as the small travel peak for middle-aged and older tourists after the National Day holiday, according to Tuniu Corp, an online travel agency based in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. It's a period when older travelers have more free time and look to avoid crowds.
This year, more older travelers booked private, in-depth group tours, in groups of four to five people, according to company officials, who said Tuniu considers elder travel an important part of their business. Some who booked trips to Beijing went to the National Museum of China and spent hours listening to detailed explanations on the exhibits.
While some people who booked tours for late October and early November to places such as Beijing canceled their original plans as a result of sporadic COVID-19 cases in some cities and stricter government management, it didn't necessarily mean they didn't travel, Tuniu said.
A large number of elders traveled to places with no COVID-19 cases, such as Hainan province, and many booked photo sessions during the trips. In some cases, children helped their parents book professional photographers to take memorable photos in the tropical city of Sanya, Hainan.
"We offer photography services that are more suitable for middle-aged and older couples, and the shooting usually takes half a day, which makes people feel more relaxed," said Qi Chunguang, vice-president of Tuniu.