An Air China plane takes off from Beijing Daxing International Airport. (Photo by Zou Hong/chinadaily.com.cn)
Since COVID-19 controls relaxed, travel agencies reporting record numbers
Flight and rail bookings have surged ahead of the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival holiday, according to online travel agencies.
The traditional Chinese holiday, known for its dragon boat races and the eating of glutinous rice dumplings known as zongzi, will run from Thursday to Saturday.
Short-haul trips with travel times of around one to two hours by rail have proved best sellers, according to travel agencies.
Train tickets for some popular travel routes sold out just minutes after going on sale on June 8, including tickets from Beijing to Tianjin, and Wuhan, Hubei province to Xi'an, Shaanxi province.
Travel portal Fliggy said bookings for rail tickets for June 21 and 22 — the day before the holiday starts and first day of the holiday — both saw a 30-fold year-on-year rise. Bookings of flights on the platform had increased sevenfold from the same period of last year as of June 8.
"It was like a 'battle without bullets' that required faster broadband speed to win the tickets. My friends and I will go Chongqing during the holiday, where it will be a 'paradise of delicious cuisine' for us," said Zhang Linan, a 27-year-old from Wuhan. He said that his cousin and sister will join him after recently completing the gaokao — the national college entrance examination.
Xiang Min, director of Fliggy's flight bookings department, said that surcharges imposed on some domestic flight tickets have come down since June 5, lowering traveling costs and driving an increase of long-distance travel during the holiday.
According to Fliggy, cities including Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou in Zhejiang province are projected to become the most popular destinations during the holiday.
Travel portal Tuniu said that many of the inquiries on its platform have been looking for domestic destinations with milder weather, as recent heat waves across many parts of the country have travelers needing a break from the sun. China's southwestern province of Yunnan and the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have both proved popular, the platform said.
Some travelers may also lengthen their holiday to four days by taking in the weekend to visit overseas destinations. Tuniu said coastal destinations such as the Maldives and Thailand are popular on the platform.
Fliggy said that bookings to overseas destinations for the Dragon Boat Festival holiday have increased by 15-fold year-on-year, while the average price for overseas tour packages has reduced by roughly half from the same period last year. It said Japan is currently in the top spot for overseas bookings on the platform.