China tourism prepares to see robust recovery

(People's Daily Online) 13:31, January 19, 2023

With the Chinese New Year drawing near and China's optimized COVID-19 strategy in place, the country's tourism sector has started to see robust recovery.

Statistics from China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism show that over 52.71 million domestic tourist trips were made in the country during the three-day New Year's Day holiday. The tourism revenue generated over the holiday exceeded 26.5 billion yuan (about $3.91 billion), up 4 percent from the same period last year.

People buy snacks at the Jiefangbei business district in Chongqing, southwest China, on Dec. 23, 2022. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)

Since the beginning of 2023, business districts in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality have witnessed an influx of tourists. Data from the Chongqing Municipal Commission of Commerce show that sales from key business districts and major commercial enterprises during the New Year holiday exceeded 7.28 billion yuan.

"Our restaurant has seen a large number of tourists in recent days, many of whom are from other parts of the country," explained Feng Jianping, a manager of a restaurant that serves local cuisine in Chongqing’s Jiefangbei business district. Feng added that the number of customers his store recently received has increased remarkably compared to last year.

Furthermore, prospects for the tourism industry are looking bright for the upcoming seven-day Chinese New Year holiday. "For China's tourism sector, the 2023 Chinese New Year holiday is the most anticipated one since the outbreak of COVID-19," said Dai Bin, dean of the China Tourism Academy and head of a data center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, at a forum on tourism development in Chongqing last weekend.

Dai's prediction is turning into reality. A report issued by Alibaba's travel branch Fliggy shows that to date, trip bookings for the Chinese New Year holiday have surged by over 70 percent year on year. As of Jan. 15, bookings for long-distance trips have accounted for 70 percent of all bookings during the holiday, a year-on-year increase of 72 percent, according to China's online travel agency Ctrip.

Chongqing, a city famous for its hilly landscape, has become one of the most popular long-haul destinations for the upcoming Chinese New Year. Over the past week, bookings of flight tickets to the city have gone up by at least 20 percent year on year, while bookings for high-end hotels have increased by over 50 percent. The city is expecting to receive tourists mainly from large cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing.

Chongqing’s Wanzhou district will organize a series of activities featuring traditional Chinese culture. Yuzhong district will launch cultural events to allow tourists to enjoy the excitement of the city at night.

Chongqing Tiandi, a commercial cluster that blends traditional Chongqing architecture with modern retail facilities, will launch an exhibition together with artist Zhang Ge. The exhibition will prominently feature the rabbit, the zodiac sign of the upcoming Chinese New Year, and cover many parts of Chongqing Tiandi, turning the district into a fairy tale world.

In addition to domestic travel, people have also shown great enthusiasm for outbound tourism. Thailand, which had previously estimated it would receive 20 million international travelers in 2023, quickly added another 5 million to the forecast after China eased its border restrictions.

A travel consultant from a Chongqing-based travel agency that deals in customized tours explained that bookings for villas and flights to Phuket Island have soared, as many Chinese tourists are planning to rent villas to spend the winter in Thailand.

Many travel agencies have rolled out new services to better meet demand for outbound trips. Fliggy launched a sector specifically for outbound trips during the Chinese New Year, which includes bookings for flights and hotels, and provides information on COVID rules for different destinations.

The recovery of the tourism sector is expected to boost urban consumption, said Mo Yuanming, an analyst from a center on the coordinated development of the Chengdu-Chongqing economic zone at Chongqing Technology and Business University. 

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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