Home may not actually be where the heart is according to a survey by British Airways, where 70% of young Hongkongers chose to avoid going home during this year’s Chinese New Year holidays.
The British Airways Chinese New Year Solo Traveller Survey (carried out independently by Lightspeed) polled 1,002 HK residents aged between 18-39 and discovered that - contrary to tradition - the majority decided they’d rather not to visit their homes in Hong Kong, China, or overseas over the CNY period.
Though the prospect of dealing with crowds of millions of other Chinese travelling at the same was an expected argument (66% cited it as a central reason and 26% citing it as a major issue) there is another surprisingly common factor for resistance across respondents. Namely, that old stand-up comedy routine mainstay, the sheer blinding awkwardness of family reunions.
Mostly this awkwardness was related to the tiring questions asked by relations, with the following queries driving people away from family visits:
- 45% of those polled (49% of men and 42% of women) said that they didn’t want to be asked about why they hadn’t gotten a better job
- 43% of those polled (46% of men and 40% of women) said they dreaded being prodded about why they weren’t married yet. 14% went so far as to cite this as a major reason to avoid home for CNY
- 40% of those polled (36% of men and 44% of women) didn’t want to be badgered about not yet having children.
Another more CNY specific family gripe was having to give out traditional red “lai see” envelopes of money to relatives, due to the cost. 38% said it was an issue and 12% cited it as a major concern. Money also came into play in the general ability to travel, with those possessing annual household incomes of more than HKD$360,001 six times more likely to travel at CNY than people with an annual household income of HK$24,000 or less.
But where those travellers are choosing to go may be starting to change. The survey showed a potential trend for Hong Kong travellers skipping relatives and friends altogether and heading away on solo adventures for the CNY period. While only 7% of respondents preferred the idea of solo travel to Mainland China during CNY, 21% of young Hongkongers (aged 18-29) would be eager to travel overseas on their own. Men in Hong Kong seemed keener to get away, with 20% actively considering travelling alone as opposed to 13% of women.
Popular Asian destinations for any lone escapees include Japan (57%), Singapore (29%), and South Korea (29%). Further abroad, the UK (21%), US (13%), and Germany (11%) were the top choices.
The winning arguments for people hoping for an overseas getaway from the CNY family functions were:
- “going wherever I want, whenever I want” (45%),
- “having time to myself” (44%),
- “the ability to be myself without being judged by others” (41%),
- “having an adventure” (31%)
- “eating whatever I want” (25%).