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/ HK Edition/ HongKong FocusBig data fuels era of individual travelUpdated: 2016-10-19 07:06
By Lin Wenjie in Macao(HK Edition) PrintMailLarge Medium  Small
分享按钮0The proliferation of “Internet Plus” has fired the imagination of Chinese tourists, with more and more travelers opting for individual trips.Eyeing the huge potential of the tourism industry, Chinese travel information-sharing website Mafengwo.com has moved to match the right products for self-reliant travelers with the help of big data.Lyu Gang, chief operating officer and co-founder of Mafengwo.com, told the Global Tourism Economy Forum in Macao on Sunday he had seen people rushing to travel in the past when package tours like “15 European Countries”, “Three Countries in Southeast Asia” became very popular because they valued quantity and speed.Subsequently, the rise of the internet has enabled tourists to secure greater access to information, and more travelers want to enjoy the local way of life, rather than rushing to scenic spots one after another, so they began planning trips on their own.”Chinese tourists are now doing better in self-learning and sharing knowledge. Different tourists and various platforms are being subdivided. In future, when the proportion of independent travelers rises, more tailor-made services will emerge. Its the era of independent travel,” Lyu said, pointing out that planning a trip on ones own is a complicated decision-making process. 
Panelists share their insights of Chinas tourism industry with the audience, and urge industry leaders to grasp the opportunities ahead.”You need to decide which hotel you want to stay, the transportation from the airport to your hotel, and you also need to buy theme park tickets, even book Michelin-starred restaurants beforehand. It will be easier for users to book everything on one website.”Founded in 2006, Mafengwo, or “hornet hive”, is an online social platform that enables users to share travel logs and experiences. With the aggregating data of travel guides, ratings and reviews, the website has made it easier for users to find interested topics and plan their trips by providing integrated information.Mafengwo began providing travel products for its 100 million users last year. “In line with the nations Internet Plus strategy, were bringing traditional travel agencies to the online platform. Users could book hotels, transportation or even book a restaurant through our platform,” Lyu said.”The total transaction value on our platform has reached 2.5 billion yuan ($371.2 million).” 
Bao Jigang (center), director of the Monitoring Centre for Sustainable Tourism Observatories at the United Nations World Tourism Organization, believes the weakening renminbi may dent Chinas outbound tourism industry in the near future.The company also operates a data center that can process the information of registered users in order to understand their traveling habits, so as to introduce the right products to potential customers.”For example, if youve bought travel products to Phuket in Thailand, we will then recommend you a trip to Boracay Island in the Philippines,” he said.According to the China Tourism Research Institute, the number of Chinas outbound tourists surged 12 percent to 120 million last year, with travel spending up 16.7 percent to $104.5 billion, compared with 2014. Meanwhile, the number of inbound tourists, including overseas tourists from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, climbed 4.1 percent from a year earlier.cherrylin@chinadailyhk.com(HK Edition 10/19/2016 page9)

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