Robust New Year consumption points to China's economic vitality

(Xinhua) 08:00, January 03, 2024

BEIJING, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- From record box office earnings to bustling tourist attractions, China's three-day New Year holiday witnessed warming consumer sentiment and got the economy off to a strong start in 2024.

Chen Xin from the warm, coastal Fujian Province celebrated New Year's Eve in the snow for the first time.

"It will be a very special and happy memory," said Chen, who traveled some 2,000 kilometers to Shenyang City in northeast China's Liaoning Province to ski with friends. The ski resort Chen stayed at saw nearly 2,000 tourists each day of the holiday.

According to the research institute of online travel agency Trip.com, snow and ice tourism sites were the most popular destinations, seeing surging numbers of ticket orders.

This aerial photo shows tourists visiting the Harbin Ice-Snow World in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Dec. 31, 2023. (Xinhua/Zhang Tao)

Driven by the enthusiasm for winter activities, there was a holiday boom in travel and tourism over the past three days.

The passenger volumes on railways, roads, waterways and airways nationwide totaled nearly 130 million from Dec. 30, 2023, to Jan. 1, 2024, the Ministry of Transport said on Tuesday. The total revenues of China's tourism market surpassed 79.73 billion yuan (about 11.26 billion U.S. dollars) in the three days, tripling the total for the holiday season last year and increasing 5.6 percent from 2019, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Crew members perform for passengers aboard train G980, running from Shenyang to Beijing, Jan. 1, 2024. (Xinhua/Long Lei)

Various New Year celebration events and pro-consumption measures nationwide prompted the stellar performance of China's tourism economy during the holiday, kicking off 2024 on a positive note, Trip.com's research institute said.

Foreign tourists also contributed to the Chinese holiday market heat. On Dec. 31, about 140 foreign tourists arrived in Shanghai to become the city's first foreign tourist group of the New Year holiday.

The tourists boarded China's first domestically built large cruise ship, Adora Magic City, from the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal on Monday, joining the ship's commercial voyage after participating in New Year countdown events including light shows and intangible cultural heritage programs such as egg-shell carving.

The country saw 5.18 million inbound and outbound trips during the three-day holiday, 4.7 times more than the figure for the same period last year and returning to the 2019 level, the National Immigration Administration said on Tuesday.

Tourists watch a firework show in Ping'an Village of Longji Town, Longsheng County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Dec. 31, 2023. (Photo by Pan Zhixiang/Xinhua)

In addition to the travel boom, China's box office revenue also registered a stellar performance. Ticket sales amounted to approximately 1.53 billion yuan during the holiday, surpassing the previous record earnings of 1.3 billion yuan seen in 2021, according to film data platforms Maoyan and Beacon.

Leading the charts for the 2024 New Year's Day holiday was romantic fantasy "Shining for One Thing," which generated 608 million yuan, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total.

The Chinese film market is showing signs of robust recovery momentum, with the total box office earnings for 2023 exceeding 54.91 billion yuan. The figure is lower than the record highs of over 60 billion yuan set in 2019 and 2018, but it is comparable to the 2017 level, making it the fourth-highest annual box office in Chinese film history.

The holiday consumer market demonstrated a sustained recovery as the tourism, catering and entertainment sectors showed strong growth momentum, said Hong Yong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.

People shop for New Year decorations in Taizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, Dec. 31, 2023. (Photo by Gu Jun/Xinhua)

As the Chinese economy navigates the post-pandemic recovery landscape, consumption has emerged as a powerful growth driver. Consumer spending accounted for 83.2 percent of economic growth in the first three quarters of 2023.

The government has stepped up efforts to bolster the consumer market and more measures are in the pipeline.

According to the annual Central Economic Work Conference held in Beijing last month, the development of digital consumption, green consumption and health consumption will be promoted further, and new growth areas such as the consumption of smart home appliances, entertainment and tourism, sports events and trendy domestic brands will be fostered.

With government measures taking effect, there will be more bright spots in the consumer market to provide stronger support for the recovery of consumption and a steady economy, Hong said.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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