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China’s tourism industry seeks rebound through ‘future trips’

(People's Daily Online)    14:05, March 17, 2020

One of the sectors to have been most severely hit by the coronavirus outbreak in China has been the tourism industry. In a bid to save themselves, they have started withdraw funds from “future trips”.

The snow scenery of Huangshan Mountain in Huangshan City, east China's Anhui Province. (Xinhua/Shi Guangde)

This has become an important part of the tourism industry's drive to overcome the current difficulties as it struggles to find new hope amid the crisis.

With 2,400 yuan (about 343 U.S. dollars), customers can buy a two-night hotel package at the original price of 5,888 yuan, which allows splitting and re-use, and is valid until the end of the year.

This is a part of the promotional activities offered by Banyan Tree, a high-end resort hotel in Huangshan Mountain in east China’s Anhui province, which used to have no shortage of customers.

"Cash flow during an outbreak is a dead end for many service industries, especially restaurants and hotels," revealed a hotel staff member, adding that in previous years, although February and March are the low season for tourism, hotel revenues can still exceed 1 million yuan. However, in these two months this year, the revenue came to just tens of thousands of yuan.

In recent days, there have been two pieces of good news: Huangshan scenic area has been open since Feb. 21, and large numbers of tourists are asking about hotel accommodation every day. After the advance-sale products were launched, more than 300 were sold in a week, easing the hotel's tight cash flow problem.

With the epidemic in China gradually being brought under control and scenic spots resuming operations in an orderly and limited manner, tourism platforms have recently launched large-scale promotional activities, with many tourists booking "future trips".

On a number of travel platforms, pre-sale products are placed in the most eye-catching positions. On Ctrip, China’s online ticket booking platform, hotels, airlines and scenic spots have offered advance sale prices with discounts ranging from 20 to 60 percent.

Most of the products can be booked depending on actual conditions throughout the year. In the first batch of advance bookings in March, there were tickets available for more than 300 scenic spots.

Why are tourism companies rushing to pre-sell their products? "For the tourism industry, the resumption of work is not the same as returning to production," said a travel agency staff member.

He added that tourism income is actually a resumption of production for travel enterprises. As tourism products are advance sales by nature, it is not unusual to launch pre-sale products launched during the epidemic period, as this will not only relieve the pressure of corporate cash flow, but also restore popularity.

"We hope that by pre-selling, we can help our partners in the industry to repatriate their cash and get through the most difficult period of the epidemic," said Sun Bo, Ctrip's CMO.

He added that tourists can buy products at a preferential price, book a reservation after the epidemic, and get a free refund if the validity period expires, but that users are not encouraged to travel immediately during this critical stage of epidemic prevention and control. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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