The tourism industry will see a boom "off the scale" during the approaching May Day holiday, as bookings for both domestic and overseas trips have been increasing in the run up to the five-day break, which starts on April 29, according to travel agencies.
They said the bookings for the May Day holiday began soaring around late March and began nearing the peak in mid-April, much earlier compared with previous years, as the brief Qing Ming Festival break did not allow most people to plan long trips outside their hometowns.
Lvmama, a travel portal, said that as of Saturday, bookings for domestic trips on the platform pulled even with pre-COVID numbers in 2019. Long-distance and overseas trips are usually favored by its users, Lvmama said.
Chinese online travel agency Tuniu said that roughly 40 percent of its users have booked long-distance trips for the five-day holiday and 25 percent selected trips lasting more than five days.
In addition to popular domestic destinations, such as Hainan and Yunnan provinces, many people are booking trips to lesser-known places, it added.
Zibo, a city in the eastern province of Shandong, has attracted millions of travelers for its delicious barbecue. Homestay bookings in Zibo have increased twelvefold compared with 2019, according to Tujia, an online homestay operator.
As of Monday, the total homestay bookings on Tujia for the May Day holiday saw a twofold growth compared with the same period in 2019, the online operator said.
"Last month, my wife and I first saw videos on Douyin about Zibo's barbecue, which uses griddle cakes to wrap grilled meat. We are curious and plan to travel to Zibo after our two-day visit to Qingdao, which is a beautiful coastal city in Shandong province," said Wang Lijian, 29, a Beijing resident.
"We will start our trip a day before the holiday starts to avoid the travel rush. ... I didn't have a long break since the Spring Festival holiday and I'm looking forward to this trip, and so is my wife," Wang added.
According to online travel services provider Qunar, as of Monday, bookings for flight tickets for the May Day holiday has exceeded the number for the holiday in 2019, and the average price has gone up by 50 percent compared with 2019.
Flight tickets from Beijing to Dali, a popular destination in the southwestern province of Yunnan, are sold out, it added.
Industry insiders said that outbound tourism will also see robust growth during the holiday, as it is the first long break after group tours resumed in early February following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
Figures from Trip.com Group show that during the first 10 days of this month, the bookings for overseas travel increased eighteenfold year-on-year, and searches for flight tickets for the upcoming holiday rose ninefold on the platform compared with the previous year.
It said the five most popular overseas destinations searched on the platform are Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.
"Outbound tourism has already registered growth, which will help improve the resumption of flight services to overseas destinations," said Sun Jie, CEO of the group. "The May Day holiday is a big test for these overseas destinations, and their services might affect the choices of Chinese travelers in the future."