Alibaba Group’s online travel platform Fliggy is bringing back its Antarctica route for Chinese tourists this week after travel reopened in January.
The cruise line to Antarctica was one of the most popular products on Fliggy before the pandemic and some 6,000 Chinese tourists had joined the cruise line run by Norwegian coastal cruise line Hurtigruten to the South Pole from 2017 to 2020.
Chinese consumers’ searches for the Antarctica trip on the platform had surged 300% in February from the same period last year.
“One of the most telling signals that the outbound tourism market is on the mend is the return and recovery of tours to Antarctica, the furthest destination for Chinese tourists,” Zhang Zhihua, who is the product manager of the Antarctica tours at Fliggy.
The number of outbound and inbound flight bookings by Chinese consumers on Fliggy leapt by over 450% year-on-year in the first two months of 2023 versus the data generated in the first two months last year.
The platform also noted a 190% year-on-year increase in orders for outbound tour products, including overseas local rides, scenic spot tickets, and online visa processing services during the same period.
Fliggy launched a month-long promotion for outbound travel in late February, during which it sold over 130,000 products such as flight ticket packages, pre-sale hotels and resorts, theme park tickets and island vacation tours in the first week.
Pre-sales of the featured cruise tours along Nordic fjords and the Mediterranean each surpassed RMB1 million ($143,491) in a single day. Thailand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam were among the top outbound travel destinations by the number of air tickets sold, with growing interest in European destinations as well, Fliggy said.
China’s travel consumption has shifted from destination-focused trips to experience-oriented and interest-driven vacations, said Simeon Shi, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Corporate Development at Fliggy. Shi advised travel service providers to spend more time researching the changes in consumer behavior.