Though China’s two-child policy is still in its infancy, child-parent travel continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors within the Chinese travel industry. In step with the country’s increasing appetite for mini-holidays, parent-child hotel bookings over Children’s Day weekend (June 8 and 9) increased 60 percent year-on-year, and online searches for child-related travel during the run-up to the Dragon Boat Festival (June 7) grew by 200 percent.
Domestic travel agencies are increasingly providing specific programs for this market slice, and Western museums and cultural institutions might want to rethink ways to better attract and engage with the Chinese family.
It may seem self-evident that museums, which necessarily combine entertainment and education, would be go-to destinations for traveling Chinese families with young children, but that trend is still very much in its early stages of development. By one estimate from e-tourism website Lvmama Tourism, the number of young visitors at museums increased by 28 percent between 2017 and 2018. Furthermore, the Shanghai-based platform conducted a parent-child focused study in 2018 that showed the most important factors determining holiday activities were opportunities for “knowledge growth,” “expanding horizons,” and the chance for parent and child to “play” together. Museums ostensibly fit all of these criteria.
For families traveling with Children, 90 percent of parents believe the purpose of such trips is educational. Accordingly, museums such as Beijing’s National Museum of China and East China’s Nanjing Museum have experienced substantial visitor growth over the past year — 6.8 and 11.2 percent, respectively. The National Museum of China holds specific educational activities for children and allows parents to book child-specific tours days in advance of their visits. Similarly, the Nanjing Museum regularly hosts child-friendly cultural activities such as paper-cutting or lantern-making.
Though it’s far fetched to suggest Western museums should offer regular cultural activities to visiting Chinese children, smaller steps, like translating pre-existing kid-friendly material (audio guides, maps, treasure hunts, etc.) into Mandarin is well within the realm of possibility. And with the China Tourism Association estimating the child-parent travel market at $14.5 million dollars in 2018, it would be a small investment well-worth making.