While Norwegians celebrate the 17th May with traditional clothes and parades, Chinese nationals celebrate the National Day by taking their partners, families, parents and friends out of town for a good time. From the 1st to 7th of October, it is estimated that up to half of the Chinese population would go on a tour either inside the country or go overseas. This period is called the “Golden Week” (黄金周 huáng jīn zhōu), or the week of National Day celebration （国庆 guó qìng ). In 2017, according to China Tourism Academy, the tourism industry had earned 590 billion yuan from the eight days of National Holiday alone by serving around 710 million Chinese tourists nation-wide – among which over six million have travelled overseas.
A tour guide in the pocket
The stereotype of Chinese tourists have not been the most flattering – they arrive in busses, crowd over a photo spot, hurled through seven countries in a week, and know little about local etiquette and culture. However, considering the tourism has really only started to develop since the open door policy in the late 70s, things are progressing fast. Some of the latest technology now in the market may even surprise you. Amongst the many services already operating online is the application of “Micro Guide”（ 微领队，wēi lǐng duì）, a service for tourists who book the holidays individually (not in a group) but want the support of local guides and the possibility of travel companions. During their trip, tourists will be given access through the mobile phone app to an online chat room to get help from destination experts, customer service, and other tourists who are also at same the destination at the same time. The Micro Guide service hires local tour guides and Chinese overseas students to offer a whole range of service through the internet: the introduction to nearby destinations, transportation guide, weather forecasts, restaurant recommendations, arrangements of tickets to events and venues, and of course, 24 hours emergency support. In other words, very much all that a local guide can do.
More prefers to go alone
This virtual local guide service gives tourists the freedom to decide their own itinerary, but at the same time offer comprehensive support for minimum worries similar to that of a guided tour. The rise in popularity of this micro guide service reflects a big change in the way Chinese tourists travel: according to a China Tourism Academy report published last year, more Chinese tourists going overseas now prefers to go alone without joining a tour, they have also been more willing to invest in experiencing the local culture of single destinations, and would want to avoid the crowd. The post 80s generation has also become the largest group to travel overseas, and female will be the leading consumer segment in the market. The stereotypical scene of a local tour guide holding up a small flag herding dozens of Chinese tourists around may soon become a thing in the past. Whereas most of the Chinese tourists still favour short haul trips such as to Southeast Asia, with Thailand at the top of overseas destination in 2017, an increasing number are venturing north to Scandinavia. According to Statistics Norway, Norway has seen a 98% increase in tourists from China from 2016 to 2017, with over 31 thousand overnight stays last year. So what is the biggest Scandinavian attraction for Chinese tourists? A recent survey tells us the answer is –not the fjords– but the northern light, according to a Chinese tourist agency specialized in northern Europe. Early October is definitely a good time to catch it.
Chinese tourists in Nanjing during the Golden Week, 2016