Jetstar Asia, the Singapore-based arm of the low fares airline, has been capitalizing on the outbound travel growth from China's second-tier cities by launching a number of new routes from non-first tier markets over the last 12 months.
China is tipped to become the world's major source of outbound tourists within the next few years with traffic from 'second-tier' cities becoming a key driver. According to the World Travel Trends Report released at the International Tourism Exchange trade show in March, the number of Chinese travelers taking outbound trips could reach 79 million by 2015. This will effectively make China the largest outbound travel market.
Concurrently, a Nielson survey report on China travel trends showed a steady increase in the number of respondents residing in 'second-tier' cities who made outbound trips.
Jetstar Asia, the Asian operator of the Jetstar Group, flies direct from Singapore to Guilin, Haikou, and Shantou and the carrier recently launched its Singapore to Hangzhou service.
Chong Phit Lian, the CEO of Jetstar Asia commented that the growth of outbound trips from China has been facilitated by a growing middle class and rising incomes as well as a simplified visa application processes. She added that the availability of more and more direct flights from second-tier Chinese cities would be a key enabler for outbound growth in those cities.
Chong cited Jetstar's Haikou-Singapore service as an example of outbound growth opportunities from second-tier cities, with the number outbound and inbound travelers passing through Haikou Meilan International Airport increasing by 43.84 % in 2010 as compared with 2009. She also pointed out that since Jetstar's Singapore to Haikou service started in 2009, the average monthly seat factor had consistently exceeded 80% with close to 40,000 passengers being carried to date.