Service providers shoot for moon with night tourism
Chinese travelers' enthusiasm to venture out at night has been rising along with daytime temperatures, and COVID-19 being brought under better control in the country is also helping matters. Rising demand for after-dark activities is driving tourism and forcing service providers to upgrade their offerings.
In the first six months, admission ticket sales to nighttime sightseeing and tourist spots and other entertainment venues surged 469 percent year-on-year, with female visitors making up for 53 percent of the total. More specific figures weren't provided in a report released on Tuesday by Trip.com Group, China's largest online travel agency.
The night economy usually refers to activities that take place between 6 pm and 2 am, bringing economic gains, and it covers sectors such as retail, transportation, catering, tourism and other entertainment. For the tourism market, especially high-end vacations, travelers are increasingly participating in nighttime events in addition to daytime tours, Trip.com said.
"With the maturing of the night economy, developing night tourism has become an inevitable trend in China. It will help satisfy consumer demand, stimulate consumption and boost high-quality economic growth," said Fang Zexi, industry analyst at the research institute of Trip.com.
"Going for nighttime tours is expected to become the choice for a large number of Chinese travelers this summer," Fang said.
More young people and families are taking nighttime tours, and their constantly evolving demand is fueling the quality of such tours to become increasingly high-end. Simply visiting sightseeing spots at night isn't the sole demand from travelers seeking premium experiences. This market needs more diversified products that provide travelers better immersive experiences, Trip.com said.
Nighttime tourism has been more attractive to local residents and those travelers who come from neighboring areas. In the first half of this year, 40 percent of bookings for night tourism events were made by travelers living within the region, the report said.
Some theme parks are accelerating efforts to boost nighttime sessions. In the first six months, Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park saw the number of travelers from Shanghai and neighboring provinces such as Jiangsu and Zhejiang account for 80 percent of the total.
The theme park said nighttime admission tickets, which are cheaper than daytime options, have helped it significantly increase sales revenue. Compared to daytime visitors, nighttime visitors tend to be younger, and they spend more on some excursions at night.
The park has launched more nighttime travel products. For instance, visitors can have dinner at a restaurant with penguins walking about. They can also watch some nighttime performances and shows, and pitch tents and stay inside the aquarium for the night. Those who visit the park at night－aged between 21 and 35－account for more than 70 percent of total nighttime visitors, the park said.
"We have fostered a night economy with a systematic way of thinking. Visitors can take in-depth and immersive nighttime tours at the park. We hope to contribute to the growth of new types of cultural tourism and domestic consumption upgrades," said Zhang Jianbin, CEO of Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park.
In the first six months, 34 percent of nighttime travelers were born in the 1990s, and 29 percent of the total were born in the 1980s. Those who were born after 2000 made up 12 percent of the total. Sightseeing attractions need to consider better ways to draw more young travelers, Trip.com said.
Meanwhile, the night view of Longmen Grottoes Scenic Area in Luoyang, Henan province, and some light shows available at other spots in the city have made Luoyang an attractive destination for tourists. In the first half, the number of tourists visiting Luoyang surged nearly eight times year-on-year, Trip.com said.
Luoyang, as well as Xi'an of Shaanxi province, and Kaifeng of Henan province, respectively, stood as the top three nighttime travel destinations that witnessed the fastest growth in visitor numbers, the report said.
Taking cruises on the Huangpu River, watching firework shows at Shanghai Disneyland, as well as touring the Qinhuai River in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, are some of the unique nighttime experiences for tourists.