Bookings for hotel rooms in China surged 30-fold on the eve of the FIFA World Cup 2022, according to one of China’s major online travel agencies Tongcheng Travel on 20 November. This was due to Chinese football fans scrambling to secure a space where they can exert their enthusiasm for the sport without disturbing families or neighbours as the tournament will unfold late at night in China.
Known as “World Cup streaming rooms”, these facilities are particularly sought after in cities including Shanghai, Changsha, Wuhan, Xi’an, and Hangzhou. While men unsurprisingly contribute to the majority of the bookings, accounting for 63% of the total customers, females are showing a growing interest in the sport too, sharing another 37% of the bookings, with young adults aged under 25 making up over 90%.
More than half of the family rooms listed on another travel agency, Ctrip have been booked by post-80s males, allowing those millennials to not miss out on the excitement of football while looking after their children. Rooms with facilities such as karaoke are favoured by the post-90s and themed accommodation such as hot springs and guesthouses appeal particularly to women, making up 70% of the bookings.
The wider tourism industry at home has also been adapting its services to leverage the domestic football fever. Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager at Chunqiu Tourism (a Chinese travel agency) revealed that during the game season, the company has introduced a series of World Cup themed glamping packages, providing campers with additional facilities such as projection screens to watch the competition.
At its camping base in Nanjing, football-related accessories have been made available for tent decoration, while in Chengdu, an immersive game ambiance has been created where customers can participate in interactive activities including game quizzes, or experience the intensity of the game through a mini football match.
The occurrence has once again reflected China’s growing appetite for football, especially amongst Millennials and the Gen Z crowd. With China’s ambition to become a “world football superpower” by 2050, the sport is expected to expand its traction at home, which would bring fire to more industries beyond the tourism sector.