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Single, won't mingle, but will travel, spend

By Zhu Wenqian | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-04 10:43
A girl reads a poster at a matchmaking event held by Alibaba Group at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. There are more than 240 million singles in China, which has spawned a booming singles economy. [Niu Jing/for China Daily]

Evolving interests, changing lifestyles, rising trend of individuality stoke massive niche tourism

Evolving interests and changing lifestyles are making it increasingly difficult for young Chinese to achieve consensus during family discussions on holiday destinations. So, many of them are preferring to travel alone to big cities, areas with lakes and mountains, or places offering outdoor extreme sports.

During the current National Day holiday break, the number of Chinese who registered for group trips by themselves surged 56 percent over last year, with more single women joining group travels. They are now the second-largest group after family travelers, according to Qunar, one of China's largest travel agencies.

Diving (after receiving the necessary certification), camping, hiking and cycling are the most popular activities that single travelers prefer to do during their excursions, Qunar found.

There are more than 240 million singles in China now. Collectively, they form a bigger group than the combined population of Russia and the United Kingdom. Nearly 80 million single adults in China live alone, and the huge single population base has stoked a booming singles economy.

"Singles' number is big. This trend undoubtedly has implications for tourism. When singles travel alone, they don't need to consider the demands of companions, and they can choose destinations and plan their trips based on their own preferences," said Neil Wang, president of consultancy Frost & Sullivan in China.

"The process of traveling, from making plans and reservations, is quite long and complicated, thus more young people think traveling on their own is freer and more fun.

"But, factors that people should consider before deciding to travel alone are safety, the loneliness of trips, communication with others and taking photos. They could pose problems. Traveling alone requires good experience and awareness of self-defense tactics. For those who lack adequate travel experience, going on trips with others might be a better option," said Wang.

In recent years, more young people in China chose to remain single or got married relatively late in life. Last year, 10.14 million couples registered to get married, 4.6 percent lower than in 2017. The marriage rate was 0.73 percent, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Given the rising demand for travel from singles, and their booming spending power, most travel agencies welcome singles who wish to join group travels.

This year (till September-end), the number of singles who traveled with groups soared 40 percent over last year, and those who traveled abroad with groups increased by 10 percent year-on-year, according to Ctrip, the largest travel agency in China. It did not disclose specific figures, though.

"For singles, there appear to be many choices: they can travel by themselves, or travel with groups, or opt for a customized tour for one person, or blend the free-and-easy option with a group tour, or get creative and innovate further. In fact, we have some specific travel products that are specifically developed for singles," said Peng Liang, director of public relations at Ctrip.

"Compared to traveling with groups, more singles prefer to travel alone, as they can adjust schedules easily based on their own preferences. They book flight tickets, hotels, ground transportation and local entertainment by themselves online," he said.

Traveling alone usually allows one to go to those niche travel destinations and join some special events.

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