SHANGHAI: Half of mainland Chinese travellers rely on their close personal contacts for information when looking for travel advice before turning to the internet to make travel bookings a survey has found.

For its Consumer Travel Tracker study, researcher GfK polled 1,000 Chinese respondents who had made a travel booking in the last three months and discovered that 52% talked to friends, family and colleagues in the first instance to get travel-related information.

This was the highest of all touchpoints, with search websites and online travel agent websites close behind with both of these on 51%.

"Even with the proliferation and growing consumer dependency on the internet for all kinds of information, the local norm of seeking information via word of mouth still prevails here," said Lawrence Liew, North Asia Director for Travel & Hospitality at GfK.

"However, the growing influence of the internet cannot be avoided, as the other top sources of travel information are still online touch points," he added.

While almost two thirds of all bookings are made online, this figure varied depending on the destination involved.

Traditional travel agencies retained a competitive edge when it came to Asian countries, while travellers were more likely to use online channels if travelling to Europe.

Asia is still the widely preferred option, however, with 78% of respondents confirming their travel plans to countries in this region. The top three destinations were Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong (14% each), followed by Japan (11%) and Singapore (8%).

One in ten (10%) have booked holidays in Europe, while 6% have chosen to visit North America.

And while independent travel is growing, packaged trips still make up the great majority of online purchases. Fully 86% of respondents had bought this sort of holiday, while 55% said they had booked air tickets and 49% accommodation.

GfK also put the average trip spending for each traveller at RMB 15,000, equivalent to around half the average monthly household income.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff