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From homecoming to outing: more Chinese celebrate Spring Festival with traveling

(Xinhua)    16:08, January 21, 2020

BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Zhang Yan, whose family resides in Beijing, joined the crowds returning home at the Beijing Capital International Airport three days ahead of the Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year.

This was the fifth time he and his wife have gone on vacation to celebrate the festival, traditionally an occasion for a family reunion. This time, their destination is Madrid, Spain.

"This is a new celebration ritual for us," the 50-year-old Beijing resident told Xinhua.

This year's Spring Festival falls on Jan. 25.

Like Zhang and his wife, millions of Chinese are now opting to celebrate by taking vacations rather than returning to their hometowns as they grow more affluent and have better access to faster and more convenient transportation.

According to a recent report by China's largest online travel agency Trip.com Group, formerly known as Ctrip, the week-long Spring Festival holiday is expected to witness 450 million domestic trips made by Chinese tourists, compared with 415 million over the same period in 2019.

"I'm tired of partying through the holiday. We owe ourselves a treat after a busy year," Zhang said. Before leaving, the couple booked a plush hotel in the suburb of Beijing for their parents and asked their only daughter to arrange a holiday on her own.

More Chinese are following the trend. Over 30 percent of tourists having placed orders on Trip.com as of Dec. 31, 2019, will set off before the Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve, which falls on Jan. 24, the online travel agency said, adding that two thirds will travel with their children or parents.

Apart from popular islands, suburban tourist spots and those featuring immersive traditional culture and ice and ski destinations are gaining wider popularity. Zhangjiakou in north China's Hebei Province is increasingly favored by tourists after the high-speed railway connecting Beijing and the city went into operation on Dec. 30, 2019.

Shortening the travel time from over three hours to 47 minutes, the high-speed rail service is transporting more tourists to the co-host city for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

"We are welcoming 30 percent more visitors thanks to the railway line," said Li Yongtai, a manager of a ski resort in Chongli of Zhangjiakou. The resort receives around 6,000 tourists on the weekends, said Li, confident about a further surge during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

Tantalized by the spending potential of Chinese tourists, many countries rolled out visa facilitation policies and tailored tour packages in a bid to attract more of them.

Starting from Jan. 1, 2020, Uzbekistan implemented a new scheme allowing Chinese citizens to have a seven-day visa free stay in the country. Thailand extended the on-arrival free visa policy to Chinese citizens till April 30, 2020. The list goes on.

Statistics by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed that as of last November, China had signed agreements with 147 countries on mutual exemption of visas for short stays.

Trip.com also said orders of overseas tours for the upcoming holiday made on the platform covered more than 1,000 destinations in 102 countries and regions, which will bring a boost to local consumption.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Du Mingming)

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