Passengers line up at check in gates at Shenzhen Baoan International Airport on Sunday. (WANG DONGYUAN/CHINA NEWS SERIVCE)
China's tourism market is heating up in step with scorching temperatures this summer.
Airports and train stations nationwide have been busy in the first week of July, with people taking vacations, visiting family and friends, and students going on summer trips, industry observers said.
Some 97,000 flights operated from July 1 to July 7, exceeding the pre-COVID level seen in the same period of 2019.
On July 7, daily passenger flights in the country topped 14,000 for the first time this year, according to VariFlight, a China-based civil aviation data services provider.
Popular routes included flights from Beijing Capital International Airport to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, and Shanghai Hongqiao to Shenzhen and Guangzhou of Guangdong province, VariFlight found.
Trip.com Group, China's leading online travel agency, said it saw record high booking volumes of domestic flight tickets in the first five days of July, while the number of bookings for outbound flights surged six times year-on-year.
In the first five days of July, ticket prices for domestic and outbound flights — including taxes — jumped 21 percent and 22 percent year-on-year, respectively, Trip.com said.
As demand recovery following China's optimized COVID-19 response measures has been sustained, carriers have undertaken various marketing strategies, such as promoting products during livestreaming sessions and interacting with passengers.
"Due to strong demand for long-haul travel in China this summer, the prices of flight tickets to many hot destinations have been significantly higher than in 2019," said Xie Xiaoqing, a senior researcher at Trip.com's research institute.
"With a gradual recovery of international flight capacity, the prices of international flights to some destinations have become more reasonable. Those destinations with relaxed visa policies for Chinese visitors serve as good choices for travel," Xie said.
In the second quarter, the passenger volume of cross-border travel in China reached 34 percent of the 2019 level, and doubled the volume from the first quarter.
The number of international flights that operated in June was 42 percent of the pre-pandemic level, according to FlightAI, a market insight platform affiliated with Trip.com.
Thailand said it expects to receive 25 million tourists this year, including some 5 million Chinese visitors.
Domestic and international carriers have ramped up efforts to launch more flights or add frequencies to meet growing travel demand.
On July 6, Xiamen Airlines launched round-trip direct flights connecting Xiamen and Paris, the 12th intercontinental route of the airline, and also the first intercontinental route launched by the carrier since the pandemic. The flights are operated once a week, and the carrier will consider increasing the frequency based on market demand, it said.
This year, Xiamen Airlines has been actively optimizing its route network and increasing investment on popular international routes.
It plans to launch a new route from Xiamen to Doha, Qatar, and increase flights to Singapore, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Vancouver to meet demand.