National Day ‘golden week’: China’s travellers yet to regain pre-pandemic appetite for overseas trips

That translated to an average of 1.477 million cross-border trips per day, below the 1.58 million forecast by the administration.


Great Wall swamped with visitors during National Day holiday

Great Wall swamped with visitors during National Day holiday

Traffic to and from Europe and America remained low, while Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea were the top destinations as well as sources of cross-border travellers.

Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, a research division of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said there was a significant increase over the holiday in group tours to countries – including in the Middle East – taking part in the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s massive infrastructure programme.

“Chinese travellers are no longer focusing on shopping to show off their wealth, but are paying more attention to the environment, history, culture and lifestyles in overseas destinations,” he wrote in a research note on Friday.

But Orient Securities chief economist Shao Yu said the recovery in China’s international tourism market still had some way to go and would not be complete until two conditions were met.

“One is the supply of flights and airfares. They have yet to return to the normal level,” Shao said.

“The other is income. People are still cautious about overseas trips because they’re more expensive. They need to feel they will have a stable income before they decide to go.”


Millions flock to China’s main tourist attractions to celebrate National Day

Millions flock to China’s main tourist attractions to celebrate National Day

While international traffic was subdued, Chinese holidaymakers were making the most of the holiday at home, making 4.1 per cent more trips and splashing 1.5 per cent more money compared with the same period in 2019, according to the ministry.

One of the beneficiaries was the performing arts, a sector that reported 2 billion yuan (US$273 million) in ticket sales during the holiday, a surge of 82.6 per cent from the same time in 2019, the China Association of Performing Arts said.

After suffering one of the biggest downturns during the pandemic, the sector offered nearly 50 per cent more shows, concerts and music festivals over the National Day break this year than in 2019, it said.

“Overall, Chinese people have shown the willingness to spend, and the quality of their tours – the distance and the expense – was much better than the May Day holiday,” Shao said.

Domestic tourists travelled nearly 190km (118 miles) on average during the holiday, up 60 per cent from the same period last year, Dai said in his note.

He said that with pent-up post-pandemic demand fading, the tourism sector was entering a new period of “rational prosperity”, driven more by technology, innovation and the confidence of investors and entrepreneurs.

“The past three years have indeed passed,” he said.

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