SHANGHAI: Around six million Chinese tourists are expected to travel abroad during China’s National Day holiday period, according to a recent forecast, which also highlights a number of new destinations that are growing in popularity.

Ctrip, a Shanghai-based travel agency, said it expected 650m Chinese to travel over the eight-day holiday that starts on October 1, and a record six million of them intend to holiday abroad.

“Popular TV shows such as Game of Thrones have become a new pull in overseas tourism,” said Shi Yuduan, Ctrip’s CMO in comments reported by China Daily.

“We have seen a staggering 300% rise in the number of tourists going to Croatia year-on-year. There is also a strong growth in [the] Czech Republic, Iceland, Spain and Northern Ireland, too, where the HBO TV series was filmed,” she added.

According to Ctrip, Chinese travellers are increasingly looking to diversify their holiday activities and itineraries, ranging from cruises and safaris to casinos and sports – and even medical tourism, such as plastic surgery.

For example, the prospect of ecotourism in Brazil has prompted Chinese consumers to double their interest in home-sharing services over the past year, according to An Li, VP of Airbnb China.

Jiang Yiyi, International Director at the China Tourism Academy, agreed that an increasing number of Chinese tourists are expressing interest in new destinations.

“Chinese tourists no longer only select traditional hot journey places such as Thailand, the United States and Japan to spend their holidays. Countries such as Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand and Peru have all become a new attraction,” she said.

Spending more time abroad on holiday is another trend identified by Ctrip, which reported that a quarter of its customers prefer to travel between seven and ten days, up 140% over the year. Meanwhile, 13% want to travel for more than ten days, a rise of 300% year-on-year.

“I don’t want to join a group coach trip to 15 European countries on a tight schedule within ten days like what used to be favoured,” said Xu Jinhao, a client. “ I’d rather spend more time to understand a country from all aspects.”

Clearly, international brands and the rest of the world’s national tourism boards will want to attract and keep the interest of Chinese tourists.

To that end, published a survey of 3,000 Chinese consumers earlier this year, which pinpointed their expectations while also confirming that Chinese of all age groups are travelling more often, for longer, and are checking out new destinations.

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by WARC staff