Emerging travel trends among China’s Gen Z: ‘CityWalk’ to trooper-Style travel

Emerging travel trends among China’s Gen Z: ‘CityWalk’ to trooper-Style travel

August 25, 2023
4 min read

Lately, Chinese Gen Z consumers are obsessed with “CityWalk” – wanting to get to know cities more intimately through this trendy travel style. The “Trooper-Style Travel” craze that exploded post-Spring Festival also remains in focus.

In the latest Mintel Report, we observed that moving into 2023, the holiday market is expected to rebound and lead the consumption recovery thanks to the easing of COVID-19 pandemic restriction, with a predicted growth rate of 91.5% compared to 2022, recovering to about 63% of the pre-COVID (2019) spending level.

CityWalks: immersive urban experiences

A leisurely CityWalk is more than just a healthy form of entertainment; it’s a chance to establish a closer relationship with urban spaces and feel like a local. To cater to consumers with diverse preferences, various unique routes have been created that delve into the most vibrant aspects of the city, including culture, art, cuisine, and local lifestyle.

These tailor-made experiences allow participants with similar interests to explore the city at their own pace, and engage in deeper interactions with like-minded people. This model has sparked a strong interest in this activity, ranking fifth in Little Red Book’s “Top 10 Lifestyle Trends of 2022.” It’s also popular on social media, with the hashtag #citywalk garnering nearly one million posts. Videos related to “CityWalk” on Tiktok have accumulated millions of plays, showing that CityWalks have indeed become one of the hottest travel trends.

Image source: xiaohongshu.com

When planning their tours, consumers have a couple of options. One option is creating their own route, connecting popular attractions, trendy vista points, distinctive shops and gourmet restaurants, which they then share their itinerary on social media for others to reference. The other is paying for organized niche tourism products, where a tour guide will arrange the CityWalk route and explain the historical, cultural, and architectural background of local neighborhoods, allowing participants to immersively experience the charm of urban evolution.

Popular options include 54 Traveler’s “City Player” series and Youqu Youth’s “Urban slow walk” series.

Image source: 54traveler.com

Knowledgeable guides like “Walking Lao Dong” and routes with urban life and historical scene, designed by “Urban Archeo,”  are also well-liked.

Image source: Urban Archeo

Additionally, online travel platforms, like Feizhu (Fliggy), offer product that combine boat tours and walking to enjoy night view from multiple angles.

Image source: Fliggy.com

Trooper-Style Travel:  how many sites did you visit?

In addition to traditional vacations, a new type of travel exploded in popularity after this year’s Spring Festival, known as “Trooper-Style Travel.” Travel enthusiasts, especially Chinese college students, cram as many sightseeing spots and local restaurants as possible into a day or weekend trip, while spending relatively little. With a higher degree of freedom than strict, scheduled tours, this style falls into the ‘strategy-based’ or ‘insider travel’ category. Young consumers leverage strong planning and execution to pack 24 hours full of activities, requiring high endurance. Extreme experiences like “Hiking 5 Great Mountains (Mount Tai, Hua, Heng, Heng, Song) in 5 Days,” “24 Hour Food and Attractions Guide to a City” and “Lining Up for Mount Qingcheng” have gone viral on social media.

What we think

Fresh off pandemic impacts, people are eager to reclaim more adventurous lifestyles. After bonding with their local communities, they now crave exploring and rediscovering their city. From fast-paced “Special Forces” adventures to immersive urban wanderings, diverse ways to discover new environments abound, allowing fulfilling new experiences.

In the post-pandemic recovery phase, people prioritize mental health, reducing stress and restoring emotional/spiritual balance. As stressors become more fragmented, consumers seek casual, pleasurable relaxation, preferring simple yet restorative micro-getaways. Brands could bring more substantive, non-cluttered content to communications or activities, helping consumers gain new perspectives from their surroundings and find joy in everyday activities.

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