During this year's three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, China witnessed more than 88 million domestic trips, about 87.2 percent of the figure for 2019, highlighting the strong recovery momentum in the country's tourism sector.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the tourism revenue during the holiday reached 37.15 billion yuan ($5.75 billion), recovering to 78.2 percent of that in 2019.
China's tourism industry seems to have adapted to the current situation of regular epidemic prevention and control, with growing market demand and more innovative business models and growth points.
In 2020, the international tourism industry was battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, witnessing a sharp decrease of 73 percent in the number of international tourists worldwide, according to the World Conference on Tourism Cooperation and Development held in Beijing.
However, with the rigorous implementation of regular epidemic prevention, China's tourism market has gradually recovered since the beginning of this year.
Statistics show that in the first half of 2021, the number of domestic tourists in China reached 1.87 billion, rising by 100.8 percent year-on-year. The gross revenue of domestic tourism hit 1.63 trillion yuan, up 157.9 percent from one year earlier.
As China's tourism market digested the impact of the pandemic, new trends and business models emerged. Theme-park tours, short-distance tours and road trips have become popular in the past Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.
China's leading online travel agency Trip.com Group, formerly known as Ctrip, released a report on tourism data during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, which highlighted the strong demand for short-distance trips.
A number of short-distance tours are offered as bundles with offline social games, such as Jubensha, literally translated as "script homicide" -- a role-playing murder-mystery game that is growing in popularity among young people.
The bundle is one of the novel business models emerging in China's travel market, said He Jingfu, head of an entertainment company in East China's Shandong province, adding that Jubensha is bringing more possibilities to the tourism industry.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of Chinese tourists are being drawn to domestic theme parks, including the newly-opened Universal Beijing Resort and Shanghai Disneyland.
The Universal Beijing Resort, currently the largest in scale worldwide, opened to the public on Monday, and was ranked among the top three most popular tourist destinations before this year's Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, according to Trip.com Group.
On the Qunar.com, China's online travel-service provider, tickets for the resort in the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday were sold out within 30 minutes, with the first one gone in a second.
The recovery of China's cultural tourism market is also bringing more opportunities and benefits to the global tourism industry, aided by various tourism fairs and expos.
From Sept 16 to 20, the 2nd China International Cultural Tourism Fair (CICTF) was held in Shandong's capital city of Jinan, attracting tourism authorities from 17 countries and more than 2,600 exhibitors with over 500,000 exhibits. Deals worth 437 million yuan were inked at the fair, an increase of 20.2 percent over the previous one.
Among the highlights at such exhibitions are goods from countries along the Belt and Road, including exotic souvenirs that would normally be sold to Chinese tourists abroad. Foreign businesses have been making up for the shortfall in orders by promoting their goods directly in China, thereby tapping directly into China's vigorous market.
Davor Richard, who hails from Ghana, went through a difficult time this year. His family is running a trade company in Shanghai, selling African tabla, masks, shea butter and other specialties that were popular among Chinese tourists before the pandemic.
"My business took a serious hit from the pandemic, but now things seem to be picking up again. The Chinese government has organized a lot of fairs just like this one. Customers are contacting us and orders are starting to boom again," said Richard.
Also at the fair was Muzaffar Bhat, an Iranian carpet seller, who said that the world is now sharing the fruit of China's tourism recovery, with tourism fairs like CICTF springing up again and business opportunities popping up anywhere. While the carpet market is relatively niche, he said the huge scale of Chinese market gives him hope for the future.