Chinese Post-80s and adventure tourism: importance of safety indicators

Chinese Post-80s and adventure tourism: importance of safety indicators

Key points:

·        Guide’s experience is a perceived indicator of adventure tourism activities’ safety

·        Increasing number of Chinese Post-80s seek exotic experiences, such as adventure tourism

“I want to be crazy”, 27 year old Yuan Tian (hereinafter Yuan) told me after she did her first sky-diving in Wollongong, Australia. Yuan is not the only Chinese tourists who have sky-dived in Australia. She is among the fast growing Chinese Post-80s tourists, who are seeking off-the-beat destinations and keen to have exotic experiences.

This group is claimed to be the key driver of Chinese outbound tourism, accounting for roughly 56 percentage of this market. In Australia, 76% of independent Chinese tourists are from this group. However, there is still a simplified or naïve understanding of this group among the industry practitioners.

Research evidence shows that China has its own model of adventure tourism and this will influence how Chinese Post-80s approach their adventure tourism activities when travelling abroad. In addition, some of the adventure tourism activities might not be accessible to Chinese Post-80s when they are at home and indeed, they are regarded the first wave to explore them outside China. Thus, this raises the question as to how adventure tourism is consumed by these young Chinese tourists.

Picture: Yuan’s sky-diving experience in Wollongong, Australia.

When we go back to Yuan’s sky-diving experience, her response seems nothing different from her western counterpart. However, when I asked her further, Yuan told me she did not want to tell her parents about her sky-diving, because she did not want them to be “worried”. It becomes apparent that Yuan, like her peers, is struggling with something hidden. On one hand, they want to pursue what interests them – a true self; on the other hand, Chinese social norms (Xiao) still pull them back. There is a constant negotiation in their minds

Nevertheless, Yuan still did sky-diving despite her worries arising from social norms, so what actually made her to do so? In other words, how adventure tourism operators can facilitate Chinese Post-80s’ participation to avoid their worries. One important practical point from Yuan, which was also found in my PhD project on Chinese Post-80s tourists, is the emphasis of the guide’s experience (for example, the guide has 5 years of experience of sky-diving and has jumped with clients more than 1,000 times);

That is to say, when adventure tourism operators design their marketing promotional materials, it is equally important to include indicators that sky-diving is safe to play, while emphasizing the excitement and craziness of sky-diving.

*Special thanks to Dr Simone Faulkner for her penetrating comments on the earlier draft of this article.

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