China: Booking.com chairwoman Gillian Tans has spoken about how China is embracing the growing global trend of home-sharing, as well as throwing its weight behind increasing sustainable travel initiatives.
In an interview with the channel CNBC at the East Tech West Conference in Guangzhou , Tans said that the online travel agency is recording an upsurge in demand from Chinese tourists seeking out responsible travel alternatives to bring it in line with a phenomenon appearing around the world.
She said: “We see trends here in China, which is a bit comparable to what we see anywhere else in the world, but we see for instance that customers think about responsible tourism and Chinese customers think about overtourism.”
As part of her findings, Tans quoted a recent Booking.com study, which indicated that 79 per cent of customers would be happy to switch to a more environmentally-friendly tourist destination for their holiday if the opportunity presented itself.
Tans said: “They [Chinese customers] want to make sure they understand what impact they have on the destination when they travel there, they want to know that the food is locally produced.”
It marks a shift in general sentiment towards travel from the Chinese population at a time when the country has been ranked as the world’s largest tourism market in terms of expenditure [at $277 billion] by the World Tourism Organisation.
As such, the chairwoman says this exemplifies the potential for the booking site within China as it looks to capitalise on the global sustainability trend and the shift in general attitude by travellers.
She added that Booking.com would continue to build on its existing partnerships with local operators such as Ctrip and Meituan, in addition to formally launching its home-sharing and localised experiences operations in the country.
In an increasingly fragmented market space for alternative accommodations, the company is looking to rival with its vacation rental competitors in the shape of Airbnb and HomeAway, with Tans adding that home-sharing bookings now account for 20 per cent of Booking.com’s overall revenues.