Travelzoo® , a global publisher of exclusive offers and experiences for members, is forecasting the largest popularity growth of Africa in 2018 among avid Chinese travelers, according to the results of the latest Travelzoo Travel Trends Survey.
The survey shows a record high number of Chinese respondents, more than 60 per cent, who plan to travel in-depth in 2018. "In-depth travels" is a term used by travel websites in China to describe the type of trips that involve more unconventional journeys beyond the typical tourist experience.
For the very first time, Africa moved up to first place as the top in-depth travel destination Chinese travelers hope to visit in 2018, dethroning the ever-popular Japan and Australia.
Among the destinations in Africa, Travelzoo's Chinese members are most interested in Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Namibia, Madagascar and Tanzania, according to Travelzoo's website statistics.
Travelzoo deal experts say the rapid growth in popularity in exotic destinations such as Morocco and Tunisia is largely due to relaxation of visa requirements for Chinese nationals.
Chinese passport holders have been granted visa-free access to visit Morocco since June 2016 and Tunisia since February 2017, and visa-on-arrival access to enter Tanzania and Egypt.
There was a 378% year-over-year growth in Chinese arrivals in Morocco and 240% in Tunisia during the six months after the easing of visa requirements, which pushed Morocco to first place and Tunisia third as the destinations that enjoyed the greatest growth in Chinese visitors.
Furthermore, the survey showed a 25% increase in the number of Travelzoo members in China who plan to take five or more overseas holidays in 2018. Travelzoo's statistics show the click-through rates of Morocco deals have increased 20% since the visa-free Morocco access was announced.
"Travelzoo members like to explore the less-traveled destinations and have immersive local experiences," comments Yoyo Huang, Associate Publisher at Travelzoo in China. "These Travelzoo members become influencers for their friends and family when they seek travel suggestions. Now that the major visa restrictions were lifted, our members are definitely keen on Africa and their friends will follow. 2018 is about time that Africa took off and continued to grow in popularity throughout the year."
Beach holidays still top the activities Chinese travelers are interested in, followed by food and wine. Third place, however, was taken by historic attractions, rising from fifth spot last year.
Cruises climbed to seventh place from tenth and photography tours appeared in the top 10 the first time. Otherwise, shopping dropped out of the top 10 activities for the first time and sightseeing also fell from ninth spot to last.
"The days when Chinese tourists were entertained by merely sightseeing and shopping are long gone," adds Huang, "the middle class in China are now seeking unforgettable experiences at their own pace when they travel. The destinations that offer rich culture and nature should expect many more Chinese visitors, so we're confident in our prediction that 2018 will see Africa secure its place as the fastest-growing popular destination among avid Chinese travelers."
Additionally, the survey revealed that the U.S.—one of the top five destinations of all time for Chinese travelers—fell from the third place to fifth this year while Japan and Australia remain number one and two. The U.K. retains the fourth spot, while no other Western European country made it into the top 10 this year.