FIT (Free Independent Traveler) dominates Hong Kong outbound! Questions of how dominant it is and what are FIT’s profile, preferences and possible impacts are likely of interest to travel trade, as Hong Kong ranked Asia’s 4th largest source market by spending! What’s more, FIT is becoming popular in mainland China too!
Suppliers of travel services worldwide are finding FIT businesses are substantial and growing fast! Being seasoned travelers, FIT will rather make own decisions and not relying on travel agents, so connecting directly with them become necessary!
How Dominant is FIT
Over 65% of (mainland) China’s outbound last year were independent travelers, according to the China Tourism Academy, which likely included those visiting Hong Kong and Macau! Now, 50 countries and regions offer visa free entry or site visa to Chinese travelers, while another 19 destinations accept online visa application. Good reasons to expect more Chinese FIT!
Popular destinations like Japan, which last year drew 925,975 visitors from Hong Kong, shed some information on the city’s FIT. Some 75% of these visitors traveled as FIT, 26% in couples and 45% with family.
Relevant information comes also from the surveys on public visitors of ITE & MICE - Hong Kong’s largest Travel Expo, which drew over 5000 replies in June this year. It found 81% respondents prefer traveling in FIT, another 5% in private tour, and only 14% prefer package tour! So in Hong Kong, FIT is the majority!
FIT Preferences & Impacts
Surveys show both FIT and trade visitors are interested in theme travel! For the public, 65% chose two or more themes, and themes’ popularity this year are Eco-tourism (35%), Driving Tour (34%), Sport Tourism (29%), Travel Photography (50%) and Cruise (25%) etc. These figures largely parallel those of trade visitors! (Please refer to Appendix on page 2)
In past year, 65% public visitors have traveled two-to-four times, and 15% five-times or more. Respectively 45% and 24% of them have university and post-secondary education. Being frequent travelers and well educated, they likely are opinion leaders on travel and therefore effective “agents” of word of mouth! In another word, FIT helps multiplying business!
For FIT products, some 39% public visitors bought from travel agents while 71% online. Significantly, 56% interested in joining local tours at destination, and 37% in making booking / purchases at ITE & MICE. This means best to connect both FIT and travel agents!
ITE & MICE offers Comprehensive Solution
By having two trade days requiring registration for admission and two public days mainly with FIT visitors, ITE & MICE allows exhibitors connecting with both trade and public visitors, and conducting channel sale and retail sale in one exhibition! Moreover, we offer free and optional services, separately for B2B which include assisting to stage trade visitors and workshop / business matching, and for B2C.
Attending ITE & MICE Hong Kong 2015 were 11874 buyers and trade visitors in two trade days, with 75% from Hong Kong and 18% mainland China; from 50 countries and regions 607 international exhibitors with 85% from abroad; and 78116 public visitors.
Organized by TKS Exhibition Services Ltd, the next ITE & MICE will be held from June 16 to 19, 2016 at Halls 1A to 1E of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, with first two days for trade only and last two days open to public. It is supported by China National Tourism Administration and Hong Kong Tourism Board etc.