May holidays see double-digit boost
The domestic tourism industry is likely to see sound and rapid growth in the years to come, experts said, with official estimates pointing to double-digit growth in revenue during this year's May holidays.
About 149 million Chinese people are believed to have gone on trips during the May holidays from Sunday to Tuesday, according to a report by State broadcaster China Media Group on Sunday, citing a recent survey released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The trips during the three-day holidays are expected to have generated 88 billion yuan ($13.87 billion) in revenue for the domestic tourism industry.
That would be an 11 percent jump from last year's figures, when 134 million trips were made, producing revenue of 79.1 billion yuan, according to official data. And the 2017 figures were 14.4 percent and 16.2 percent higher, respectively, than in 2016.
Of the people surveyed, 36.6 percent said they wanted to travel during the holiday, according to the report.
Song Ding, a research fellow at the China Development Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the robust development of the tourism industry is based on steady growth in Chinese people's income and the country's push to boost the tourism industry via supply-side structural reforms. The official goals are for tourism revenue to reach 7 trillion yuan by 2020 and for the tourism industry to account for about 12 percent of GDP by that time.
"The government is trying to promote an integrated approach to tourism, and to deal with many bottlenecks restraining growth such as a lack of accommodation in rural areas, and inadequate transportation and auxiliary services. These efforts have unleashed the potential of domestic tourism," Song said.
Among the people surveyed, 31.2 percent chose short-distance trips, resulting in a hot sub-market. The percentage choosing Beijing, Qinhuangdao in North China's Hebei Province, and Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province - the top three short-trip destinations - were 17.6 percent, 12.5 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively.
Leisure and sightseeing remain the top reasons for May holiday travels, noted the report.
Yang Yong, dean with the School of Tourism at East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that domestic tourism is seeing growing demand.
"Travel has become Chinese people's new-found habit, and this is a growing habit," Yang said, noting that travel has become a popular way for family members and friends to gather.
"International experience shows that when a country's average disposable income reaches $3,000-5,000, tourism begins to take off. For many big Chinese cities, citizens' income has surpassed that level," Yang said.
Shanghai-based online travel platform lvmama.com told the Global Times on Tuesday that more and more Chinese families are choosing to stay in mid- to high-end hotels, causing a shortage of supply in such offerings near major cities.
According to a press release emailed to the Global Times by China Railway Corp on Monday, the State-owned railway operator on Saturday arranged for 8,871 trains to transport 14.49 million passengers with 706 temporarily added trains. The passenger volume on Sunday was 840,000 passengers more than last year, a rise of 6.1 percent.