Domestic tourism steadily recovered in the first half of the year, with many tourism operators becoming more confident about turning losses into profits.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, domestic sites received over 2.38 billion visits in the first six months, a 63.9 percent year-on-year increase, mainly due to the optimization of COVID-19 control policies.
The ministry said that revenue generated from domestic tourism reached 2.3 trillion yuan ($320 billion), up 95.9 percent from the same period in 2022.
Thanks to the growing number of travelers, many tourism operators and companies predict they will turn a profit once they tally their earnings from January to June.
For example, Xi'an Qujiang Cultural Tourism, a company based in Shaanxi province, recently said that it expected to see profits of about 12.4 million yuan in the first six months, thanks to increasing revenue from its theme parks, hotels and sports businesses.
Travel portal Tuniu said the tourism market saw fast growth after the government downgraded its management of COVID-19 from category A to B in January.
"People showed a growing passion for spring outings, and then the May Day holiday saw a travel surge. The domestic tourism market has been in a continuous and full recovery this summer because of increasing family and graduation trips," Tuniu said.
Liu Yang, chief business officer from Tujia, a homestay operating and booking platform, said that the homestay industry also experienced an upswing in the first half of the year because of the tourism boom, especially during public holidays.
"In the past half year, homestays in Chengdu in Sichuan province, Dali Bai autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province, and Chongqing were the top three choices for our users. Homestays in some destinations that used to be 'niche' or less well-known, such as Zibo and Weihai in Shandong province, saw their bookings rise over fivefold in the first half of the year compared with the same period last year," she said.
Outbound tourism also experienced a recovery in the first six months of the year. Tuniu said that overseas travel bookings on its platform saw threefold growth on Jan 8 — the first day of China's downgraded COVID-19 management — compared to Jan 7, and the outbound tourism market has seen stable increases since March thanks to more resumed flights.
Qi Chunguang, vice-president of Tuniu, projects continuous development of domestic tourism in the second half of the year, adding that the tourism market will experience new travel peaks during the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays from late September after the summer travel boom ends around August.
"As for overseas trips, we saw two main problems in the first half of the year — slower visa issuance and higher prices for tour products. It's expected that the longer application time for travel visas to destinations such as Europe will continue to affect people's desire to travel," he said.
"Overseas tours may drop after the summer peak, but we believe overseas tourism will see a better recovery with improved airline services and higher efficiency in the issuance of visas."