January 9, 2024
BEIJING – Tourism demand surge around longer festival in Feb seen spurring market recovery
The Feb 10-17 Spring Festival break in this Year of the Dragon, being longer by a day, will unleash the full potential of China’s dynamic travel and consumption markets, given that the Chinese have already indicated their great enthusiasm for holiday journeys in the post-COVID-19 era, experts said.
Anticipating the travel rush, the State Council, China’s Cabinet, released holiday arrangements in late October. Since then, online searches for train tickets and domestic and international flight tickets have surged, market sources said.
A longer Spring Festival is expected to have a huge positive impact on the recovery of the tourism market. The holiday will mark the first winter vacation and the first Spring Festival since China resumed group outbound tourism after the pandemic subsided.
Outbound tourism will surpass the levels seen during the summer vacation and the National Day holiday in 2023, industry experts forecast.
“A longer holiday provides enough time for consumers for family reunion, visits to relatives and friends, and travel,” said Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy.
“During the holiday, people’s budgets for dining, shopping, buying gifts and other expenses are usually relatively high, and this is foreseen to have a significant impact on tourism growth,” he said.
In the first three quarters of 2023, Chinese consumers spent 3.69 trillion yuan ($515 billion) on domestic travel, up more than 114 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Some places in China have emerged as popular destinations for the Spring Festival holiday. Sanya and Haikou of the southern island province of Hainan lead the pack, followed by Dali and Xishuang Banna Dai autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province, said Qunar, a Beijing-based online travel agency.
For outbound travel, Chinese travelers have frequently searched for European destinations such as Spain, Switzerland and France, as well as Australia and New Zealand. The number of inquiries about visa applications to those destinations has climbed, Qunar said.
“For tailored trips, ideas would vary for different spans. On a seven- or eight-day trip, consumers can visit two or three destinations. If it’s more than nine days, we will help plan a longer route for travelers,” said Yang Guanghui, director of vacation business at Qunar.