Millions of Chinese will go on holiday at home and abroad next week for the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival, and technology is changing the way they book, plan and travel.
“Smart tourism” is based on advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence to offer users safer and easier trips.
Tourists can enjoy upgraded services from route planning to traffic monitoring, visitor information, shopping and aerial photography. Providers, including 12301 tourism platform, AutoNavi, Airbnb, Tuniu, Lonely Planet and startup Mark, have seen traffic and income surge.
“Smart tourism over new technologies like data analysis and AI will improve traveling experience, especially those tourists with customized, diversified and high-quality demands,” said Dong Zhenning, vice president of AutoNavi, the top map and navigation firm in China.
During the holiday from Sunday through October 8, domestic traffic will hit 710 million trips, which is expected to generate revenue of 590 billion yuan (US$88.6 billion), 12.2 percent up from last year, according to the China National Tourism Administration.
Chinese millennial travelers are fueling the growth of global tourism as they seek new experiences, especially “adventurous influencers, followers of fashion and the culturally curious,” according to a recent survey by Carat and Jing Travel.
During the peak National Day holiday, traffic volume is expected to be up to four times normal, especially in Chongqing, Suzhou and Dongguan, according to a study by AutoNavi and transport regulators.
Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hebei, Shandong and Sichuan are the regions with highest risks of accidents. Tourists are advised to plan routes to avoid jams and tired driving, said AutoNavi, which has more than 700 million users nationwide.
AutoNavi also partnered with the government-authorized national smart tourism platform 12301 to offer AI-featured services for tourism sites and visitors.
The platform offers tourism site operators expected visitor volume and real-time monitoring services. For visitors, they can find regulators easily through the platform when they face unregulated services and unreasonable prices, said Yao Danqian, president of 12301, which connects more than 5,000 top sites and 1,200 regional tourism regulators.
Besides domestic traveling, more than 80 percent of the people are willing or planning to travel overseas in the fourth quarter, the national tourism administration says.
In Shanghai, about 20 percent of the tourists are going to take outbound trips in October, mainly eight to 12 days. The top foreign destinations are Russia, the United States, Australia, the UK and France.
Popular Asian destinations include Thailand, Japan, the Maldives, Indonesia and Vietnam, according to Tuniu, one of top online tourism providers.
Chinese outbound numbers for parent-child travelers account for 17 percent of the total outbound traffic, double the domestic figure. Kitchens seem necessary for them. Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong were most appealing to Chinese mainland families, especially cities such as Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, according to Airbnb data from January 1 to September 1.
Shopping is another focus for Chinese tourists headed overseas, who spend an average 20,000 yuan for each trip and at least 6,000 yuan for products, according to Mark, a Shanghai-based startup.
Mark is a mobile app for travelers shopping overseas and has links with 10,000 shop partners, mainly in airports and cities in Japan and Thailand. Besides offering coupons and shopping guides, its services include user-friendly shopping lists, price comparisons and real-time currency calculation.
Aerial photography is also a new trending demand among tourists, with the popularity of drones.
The Jiankou section of the Great Wall, Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province and the Yellow River in Ruoergai of Sichuan Province are among the top-10 sites for aerial photography, according to a report of drone maker DJI and Lonely Planet.