Evolving interests and changing lifestyles are making it increasingly difficult for young Chinese to achieve consensus during family discussions on holiday destinations. So, many of them are preferring to travel alone to big cities, areas with lakes and mountains, or places offering outdoor extreme sports, China Daily and the Singapore Straits-Times reported.

During the current National Day “golden week” holiday break, the number of Chinese who registered for group trips by themselves surged 56% over last year, with more single women joining group travels. They are now the second-largest group after family travellers, according to Qunar, one of China’s largest travel agencies.

Diving, camping, hiking and cycling are the most popular activities that single travellers prefer to do during their excursions, Qunar found.

There are today more than 240 million singles in China. Collectively, they form a bigger group than the combined population of Russia and the United Kingdom.

In recent years, more young people in China have chosen to remain single or got married relatively late in life. Last year, 10.14 million couples registered to get married, 4.6% lower than in 2017. The marriage rate was 0.73%, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Nearly 80 million single adults in China live alone, and experts said the huge single population base has stoked a booming singles’ economy.

“The singles’ number is big, and this trend undoubtedly has implications for tourism, as when singles travel alone, they don’t need to consider the demands of companions, and they can choose destinations and plan their trips based on their own preferences,” said Neil Wang, president of consultancy Frost & Sullivan in China.

“The process of travelling (with others), from making plans and reservations, is quite long and complicated, thus more young people think travelling on their own is freer and more fun.”

But factors that people should consider before deciding to travel alone are safety, the loneliness of trips, communication with others and taking photos, added Wang.

“Travelling alone requires good experience and awareness of self-defence tactics. For those who lack adequate travel experience, going on trips with others might be a better option,” he said.

Given the rising demand for travel from singles, and their booming spending power, most travel agencies have welcomed singles who wish to join group travels.

As of September, the number of singles who travelled with groups soared 40% over last year, and those who travelled abroad with groups increased by 10% year on year, according to Ctrip, the largest travel agency in China, although it did not disclose specific figures.

“For singles, there appear to be many choices: they can travel by themselves, or travel with groups, or opt for a customised tour for one person, or blend the free-and-easy option with a group tour, or get creative and innovate further. In fact, we have some specific travel products that are specifically developed for singles,” said Peng Liang, director of public relations at Ctrip.

“Compared to travelling with groups, more singles prefer to travel alone, as they can adjust schedules easily based on their own preferences. They book flight tickets, hotels, ground transportation and local entertainment by themselves online,” said Peng.

Meanwhile, Chinese tourists spent US$127.5 billion overseas in the first half of 2019 (H1), according to a report released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) and reported by CGTN.com.

Asia took the lion’s share of Chinese tourists’ consumption with 54%t of the total. The Americas ranked second, accounting for 24%, followed by Europe with 13%, the report showed.

With stronger trade and investment ties with countries along the Belt and Road, Chinese nationals are spending more in such emerging markets, according to the report.