Travel becomes a family affair

Updated: 2013-06-18 01:56

By Wang Wen (China Daily)

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As family tourism gains popularity in China, the industry is gearing up to serve this growing market.

South African Tourism, the country's tourism authority, launched a three-month program on Friday targeting Chinese families.

Four Chinese travel agencies, including China International Tourism Service Ltd and China Youth Travel Service, are taking part in the program. The four agencies aim to attract more than 1,000 Chinese families to South Africa through the program, which runs between August and October.

"South Africa, with its diversified culture and natural resources, is a good choice for family tourism," said Bradley Brouwer, Asia and Pacific regional manager of South African Tourism.

Wild animals and lodges are the themes of the family tourism program, he added. These aspects of travel are attractive for children and parents.

Parent-child activity is very important for family tourism, as each family member's needs should be met in the trip, industry experts said.

But offering a wide range of activities means higher tour costs and higher fees for travelers, said Li Meng, deputy director of the outbound department of CITS.

Families who traveled in 2012 spent a record 11,157 yuan ($1,820) each, according to figures from the Huakun Women's Life Survey Center.

The Chinese family tourism market has expanded in recent years as the economy has developed. The center's figures show that 59.7 percent of the families it surveyed have travel plans for 2013, and 48.6 percent actually did travel together in 2012.

As Chinese residents have given more attention to tourism, their demands are rising, Li added.

Chinese travel agencies are preparing for the upcoming summer vacation season, which is one of the year's family travel peaks. The other is winter vacation.

"Family tourism is seasonal and families usually travel during the public holidays," Li said.

Jiang Lin of Beijing, the mother of a 10-year-old son, is planning to take her family to Europe during the summer vacation.

"I want to travel with my family for a long time, but only when the vacation comes can my child go with me," she said.

Almost 70 percent of the summer cruise spots offered by Beijing UTour International Travel Service Co Ltd have already been sold, more than one month before the vacation starts, said Hu Xinxin, product manager of the agency's cruise department.

Family rooms for cruises are the most popular and only a very few are still available, Hu said.