HONG KONG – Reconnecting with families and friends is the most important reason Hong Kong travelers go abroad, Visa’s latest Global Travel Intentions Study 2015 revealed. In making the decision to go on vacations overseas, personal factors such as relationship-building and relaxing appear to be more important than destination-specific factors.
Amid busy schedules, Hong Kong travelers are carving out precious travel time to rekindle relationships with loved ones. Among those who had made overseas trips in the past two years, 51 percent said bonding was among the top 3 important things that they were looking for in the most recent trip abroad, followed by relaxing (50 percent) and indulging (45 percent). While experiencing culture (34 percent) was not a major reason to leave the city, 41 percent of those surveyed said this would be a reason to travel next year.
Family plays a crucial role in starting overseas expeditions. Hong Kong travelers rank family vacations as the top triggers for traveling (19 percent). The majority travel with companions (79 percent) throughout the trip or at some parts of it and more than half of this group went with spouses, over one-fifth (21 percent) travelled alone throughout the whole trip.
“The Visa Global Travel Intentions Study 2015 hints at a change in both the travel spending pattern and consumer mindset, suggesting a growing appetite for online booking,” said Caroline Ada , Visa Hong Kong and Macau Country Manager. “According to the Study, 80 percent of the travelers prefer to use more online sources at the booking stage, especially those who are independent travelers (82 percent). Visa is committed to using the results to better understand the spending pattern of Hong Kong cardholders, so as to bring new electronic payment technology to market.”
Payment cards gaining worldwide reach
Accompanying the travel boom is the enormous need to pay for purchase overseas. Financial institutions are strengthening their foothold in the overseas payment landscape: 3 in 4 Hong Kong travelers used their credit cards abroad during their last trip.
Payment card payments are generally associated with big ticket items: 55 percent of those surveyed said they would pay by credit card at premium brand retailers, while 56 percent said they would do so at high-end restaurants.
Although payment cards (92 percent) are the most popular payment method for Hong Kong travelers to bring along on their foreign adventures, cash is still king at destinations: on average Hong Kong travelers spend 62 percent of their travel expenses at destination using cash and 31 percent on credit card. In contrast, payment cards are more frequently used during the planning stage, with 69 percent of Hong Kong travelers using payment cards to pay for their travel bookings.
Hong Kong travelers enjoy the world on a budget
According to the survey, Hong Kong travelers are budget-conscious when they travel. They spent a median amount of HK$10,062* (US$1,290) on their last trip, the same expenditure level as in 2013. Japan HK$18,112* (US$2,322) and Korea HK$10,062* (US$1,290) are destinations where Hong Kong travelers tend to spend more at, as compared to Taiwan HK$5,538* (US$710) and mainland China HK$4,025* (US$516) . While Hong Kong travelers intend to double their budget for their next trip HK$19,508* (US$2,501) , this amount is still lower than regional and global levels HK$27,308* (US$3,501) .
In budgeting for international leisure trips, Hong Kong travelers are almost equally likely to start planning with a budget (54 percent) or with the best experience in mind (46 percent). 4 in 5 Hong Kong travelers are willing to pay extra for interesting activities not written into itineraries. Local food specialties (50 percent), postcards (26 percent) and local apparel (24 percent) are the top three souvenirs Hong Kong travelers purchase during their leisure trips.
In respect of travel accommodation, although 49 percent of Hong Kong travelers stayed in 4-star and above hotels or resorts in the past two years, affordability remains the most important consideration when comparing accommodation options, 62 percent of the respondents admitted. Convenience (56 percent) and safety (48 percent) are next key considerations. Overall, Hong Kong travelers are more open to staying at hostels, guesthouses and chalet bed & breakfasts (23 percent) than other Asia-Pacific (18%) or global travelers (16%).
Hong Kong citizens’ love for overseas travel goes without saying. 92 percent of the Hong Kong travelers surveyed traveled abroad for leisure in the past two years, compared to 84 percent in the Asia-Pacific region and 76 percent globally. They traveled mainly within North Asia with mainland China, Taiwan , Japan and Korea being the top destinations visited. Hong Kong travelers made an average of 3 leisure trips in the previous two years, and intend to take 6 trips in the next two years, including at least 3 leisure trips and 2 business trips.
Hong Kong travelers adopt a laid-back approach when planning for holidays overseas
Early in the planning stage, most Hong Kong travelers already have a destination in mind (61 percent), but they are spontaneous when it comes to actually making a booking, the survey revealed. 68 percent of independent travelers said they only start to pencil down the itinerary one month before the journey starts, some even push the task to a later date.
Availability of activities (65 percent), accessibility (64 percent) and budget (54 percent) are the top considerations in choosing a destination, revealed Hong Kong travelers. Since most prefer to travel short haul (55 percent), it is no wonder that the top three destinations to visit next year, namely Japan (25 percent), Korea (12 percent) and Australia (11 percent), are all close to home.
*Exchange rate: US$1 = around HK$7.8