Chinese stay close to home

SHANGHAI, 27 April 2021: During the five-day Labour Day holiday that gets underway 1 May, an estimated 200 million Chinese tourists will travel to domestic destinations.

Positive weather forecasts and pent-up demand due to repeated lockdowns and social distancing over the past year are fueling tourism industry optimism, according to a China Daily Global report.

Experts say they are confident that as authorities bring the  Covid-19 pandemic under control, the annual Labour Day national holiday will sustain a boom in last-minute bookings, but only for domestic destinations.

When will outbound travel reopen for Chinese holidaymakers? That’s the million-dollar question, and the consensus suggests it depends on the vaccination programme and the willingness of countries to agree to establish travel bubble channels.

Trip.com Group, China’s largest online travel agency, says high-end hotel bookings represent more than 50% of holiday bookings. Demand has caused online booking servers to crash in the run-up to the holiday, especially online platforms selling train tickets that open for sale just 15 days before train departures.

“This year, the domestic tourism industry will fully explore its resources to fuel spending and boost economic growth as international travel is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels,” Luo Xiang, an analyst at the LeadLeo Research Institute, a market research provider to China Daily.

The average price of a Labor Day holiday trip this year rose nearly 30% compared to the corresponding period of 2020. Airfare costs rose more than 20%, according to the booking site Fliggy.

Some economy-class flight tickets for journeys originating in Beijing for Sanya, Hainan province, on 30 April and 1 May have been sold out well in advance, and only business-class seats were still available two weeks before the holiday.

Starting Wednesday, travellers boarding flights will surge, with departures expected to peak on Friday and recede a bit on 1 May.

The rebound in domestic travel has boosted the confidence, but there is still no news on when outbound travel from China will resume in earnest.

For outbound trips, Macau remains the beneficiary. Chinese mainland tourists are not subject to 14 days of quarantine on arrival in Macau and can return home without the need for quarantine.

(Source: China Daily Global)