SHANGHAI: Destinations in Asia remained the most popular for Chinese tourists during last week’s Golden Week holiday, but there is growing evidence that more travellers are seeking out holidays in new and sometimes surprising locations.

It is estimated that six million Chinese travelled abroad during the national holiday and Trivago, the Expedia-owned travel bookings platform, reported that Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka and Bangkok were the most popular destinations – along with Paris, the only non-Asian city in the top five.

However, there are signs that Chinese tourists are becoming increasingly adventurous and are looking further afield for their next holiday, CNBC reported.

According to Ctrip, one of the largest online travel agencies in China, new locations that saw more than 50% growth in the number of bookings this year include major European countries, such as Germany and Italy, but also some perhaps surprising choices like Finland and Austria.

Morocco, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Vietnam and Cambodia have also seen a surge in demand from Chinese tourists wanting to spread their wings.

Ben Cavender, an analyst at the China Market Research Group in Shanghai, explained that a growing number of middle-class consumers are attracted by the “social cachet” of visiting places others haven’t.

“Increasingly, we are seeing well-heeled Chinese travel to hard-to-reach destinations for the bragging rights and WeChat pictures [to] show they’ve been somewhere exotic,” he said.

Even though the vast majority of Chinese tourism is domestic, this growing trend towards overseas travel, especially the newfound popularity of “hot” new destinations, will have implications for marketers and brands.

They also will want to know that there is increasing demand for personalised holiday experiences over packaged tours. According to Ctrip, more wealthy Chinese tourists are enquiring about holidays that include private travel guides and avoid big crowds.

And in another noteworthy trend to emerge from the Golden Week holiday, China Daily reported that Alipay, Alibaba’s mobile payment service, saw an eightfold increase in the number of overseas in-store transactions compared with last year.

Germany accounted for 40% of Alipay transactions in Europe, followed by the UK (23%) and France (22%). Italy, where Alipay only launched in April, accounted for a further 5% of transactions.

Sourced from CNBC, China Daily; additional content by WARC staff