Travel demand ramps up over double holiday

2023-10-07 08:33:37China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Passengers get off a high-speed train at a station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Friday, the last day of the National Day holiday. (SU YANG/FOR CHINA DAILY)

Passengers get off a high-speed train at a station in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Friday, the last day of the National Day holiday. (SU YANG/FOR CHINA DAILY)

Travel demand, especially a preference for high-speed rail journeys, saw a strong upsurge during the just-completed combined Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday, with bullet trains attracting some foreign celebrities to experience the concept of "China speed".

This year's eight-day holiday from Sept 29 saw the Mid-Autumn Festival combined with the National Day holiday.

Online travel agency Lvmama said that railway ticket bookings on its platform for the combined holiday soared 67 percent from the same period of 2022. On Thursday — the penultimate day of the eight-day break — Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev was seen taking a high-speed train from Beijing to Shanghai after he finished as runner-up at the China Open men's singles final in Beijing on Wednesday.

"Flight tickets were overpriced during the holiday, so bullet trains were apparently a more affordable choice. Usually, we need to rush to the airport for the check-in and security check at least 90 minutes before departure but we can just arrive at the railway station like five or 10 minutes before the train sets off," said Li Qijia, a 29-year-old from Beijing who went on a four-day trip with her husband to Anji, Zhejiang province, during the holiday.

As the holiday drew to a close on Friday, the railway network experienced a peak in return trips. The latest figures from China Railway Group showed that over 16 million passengers boarded high-speed trains per day since the holiday began, while some 18.8 million holidaymakers are expected to have traveled by bullet train on Friday, the last day of the extended dual holiday.

Travel volume also hit a new high during the holiday. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism released a report on Friday saying that domestic attractions received around 826 million visits over the break, from Sept 29 to Friday, up 71.3 percent year-on-year. The number marks a growth of 4.1 percent from that in 2019 — just prior to the pandemic.

Tourism-related revenue registered remarkable growth, reaching around 753.4 billion yuan ($103 billion) in eight days, a year-on-year rise of 129.5 percent and a growth of 1.5 percent from that in 2019, the report said.

Travel agencies and industry insiders said that the tourism market saw a good recovery over the holiday and people tended to make more reasonable plans for their days off. Also, long-distance destinations were top choices for travelers during the eight-day break.

Domestically, destinations including Chengdu, Sichuan province; Changsha, Hunan province; and Xi'an, Shaanxi province, were particularly favored by travelers for their delicious cuisine and iconic attractions, such as the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an and pandas in Chengdu, according to travel portal Qunar.

Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, was also in the spotlight thanks to the ongoing 19th Asian Games. Online travel service provider Fliggy said hotel bookings in Hangzhou and five other host cities in Zhejiang — Ningbo, Jinhua, Huzhou, Wenzhou and Shaoxing — rose by over 60 percent during the holiday compared with the same period in 2019.

Outbound tourism also performed well during the holiday. Travel portal Tuniu said Hong Kong and Macao remained popular on its platform during the holiday and Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor attracted over 430,000 people to watch a fireworks show on Sunday.

According to Tuniu, Thailand, the Maldives and Singapore were top choices on its platform over the holiday while the United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Turkiye grew strongly as well among Chinese travelers.

Xiao Peng, an analyst at Qunar, said: "The tourism industry needs time to recover after experiencing impacts from the pandemic over the past three years. But people have released their pent-up travel passion so tourism sector workers should resume services and improve them at the same time. We are happy to see that all these figures show the tourism market is getting back on track."

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