"Special Forces" style tourism booms during ethnic holiday season

(Xinhua) 10:34, April 28, 2023

NANNING, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Making stops at multiple attractions in quick succession and enjoying foods from street stalls and eateries in a hurried fashion before scurrying to the next instagrammable location, it is dubbed "Special Forces Style Travel" by Chinese netizens, a hip way among young people in China to make the best out of short holiday breaks.

The trend was particularly prominent this month during "Sanyuesan", a traditional festival celebrated by many ethnic groups across China, and was especially noteworthy in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. A phrase prefixed with "Guangxi Sanyuesan" became a trending topic on the Chinese social media site Weibo, with over 56 million reads.

"Sanyuesan" was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in Guangxi in 2014. The region, which is home to the majority of the Zhuang ethnic group, was granted an official two-day holiday starting on March 3rd of the lunar calendar each year in honor of the occasion, which is rich both in rituals and traditions.

However, this year's "Sanyuesan" fell on April 22, a Saturday, hence a three-day weekend.

Railway stations in Nanning, the capital city of the region, sent out over 1.58 million passenger trips during "Sanyuesan," a whopping 883.1 percent increase from the comparable period last year.

Lu Yuan, a local university employee, was among the armies of outbound "special forces" who seized the long weekend and decided to get away.

She hopped on a bullet train in Nanning in the early morning of April 21 and arrived at Hong Kong West Kowloon Station roughly four hours later.

"I caught some sleep on the train, so I was pumped up for the rest of the day," Lu said.

She and her friend did a quick yet comprehensive tour of the city, visited some of the iconic local attractions on the day they arrived, and spent the second day at Disneyland. Before catching the train home on the third day, they also did some shopping and enjoyed a hearty lunch at a famous local cafe.

"Places like Hong Kong are desirable destinations for this type of hasty tourism because they are dotted with photo-worthy places, and the whole city is an amazing food court," Lu added.

Between April 21 and 23, tourism hotspots in Guangxi were bustling with people amid the region-wide jubilation of "Sanyuesan" as train tickets from Nanning to Guilin, Beihai, and Liuzhou were sold out days in advance.

The influx of tourists who sought to indulge in the authentic Guangxi experience is a welcome sign of a tourism rebound, with the number of orders placed during "Sanyuesan" exceeding that of 2019, according to data provided by Meituan, a life service platform.

Chen Zusheng, an engineer from the neighboring Guangdong Province, took a two-day paid leave and became an inbound "special forces" traveler in his home province of Guangxi. During his trip, he had a little get-together with his college softball team and played some friendly matches with several local teams.

"It's a rare occasion where I can re-connect with some friends from the old days and pay a visit to some places for old-time sake," Chen said.

Chen also promised his local teammates a reunion during the next "Sanyuesan."

"It's a short break of unique significance for Guangxi," Chen said. "If the holiday lasted over five days, most people would choose to travel outside the region, and our reunion would not have happened."

Chen would later switch on his hardcore foodie mode and go to Liuzhou, the hometown of Luosifen, the stinky snail noodle, by train before returning to Guangdong.

This year, Nanning, Liuzhou, and Guilin ranked among the top three most-visited cities in the region during "Sanyuesan", according to the local tourism authorities, with Liuzhou seeing a 105.1 percent year-on-year increase in the number of tourists and a sharp rise of 121.5 percent in revenue from a year earlier.

The coastal city of Beihai enjoyed staggering 335.1 percent and 289.4 percent increases in the number of visitors and revenue generated respectively, compared to the same period last year.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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