Train tickets for popular destinations for first day of Qingming holidays sold out, tourism momentum to last: experts

(Global Times) 09:55, March 22, 2024

Passengers prepare to board a train in Nanjing railway station, east China's Jiangsu Province, March 5, 2024. China's 40-day travel surge, also known as chunyun, concluded on Tuesday.(Photo: Xinhua)

Passengers prepare to board a train in Nanjing railway station, east China's Jiangsu Province, March 5, 2024. China's 40-day travel surge, also known as "chunyun", concluded on Tuesday. (Photo: Xinhua)

Train tickets for April 4 - the first day of the three-day Qingming holidays - were sold out on Thursday, with searches for popular destinations surging by more than 600 percent on a weekly basis.

Following the bustling travel seen during the Spring Festival holidays, experts expect the momentum to be sustained over the upcoming holidays with a small travel peak, underscoring China's continued economic revival and consumption recovery.

The Qingming Festival, which is also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, will fall on April 4 this year, with the holidays lasting until April 6.

As of 10 am on Thursday, train tickets for popular routes such as Beijing-Xi'an, Beijing-Shenyang and Nanjing-Hangzhou were among those that had been sold out, according to data from online ticketing platform Tongcheng Travel.

China's railroad department said that most of the trips during the holidays would be short-distance trips associated with tomb-sweeping activities.

Following the increasing popularity of Tianshui in Northwest China's Gansu Province, train tickets from cities such as Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province to Lanzhou in Gansu were already sold out for April 3, as Lanzhou is a major stop for travelers transferring to Tianshui.

Tianshui recently went viral for its spicy hot pot as Chinese sightseers flock to the city to try the local delicacy. Searches for Tianshui on Tongcheng Travel grew by 616 percent on a weekly basis, and bookings for hotels in the city during the week rose 76 percent week-on-week - a new high for the city's hotel bookings within a single week.

Qingming is the first holiday after the Spring Festival holidays, while the beautiful spring weather remains another major attraction for tourists, Zhang Yi, CEO of iiMedia Research Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday, saying the integration of culture and tourism would propel the development of local tourism.

Zhang said that the potential travel peak for the Qingming Festival may come earlier than last year, indicating rebounding market confidence amid the country's economic progress.

From January to February, China's total retail sales of consumer goods hit 8.13 trillion yuan ($1.13 trillion), up 5.5 percent year-on-year, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.

Retail sales of services rose by 12.3 percent, which was 7.7 percentage points faster than retail sales of goods.

Liu Aihua, an NBS spokesperson, said during a press conference early this week that demand had lifted as sales continued to recover, the consumption potential of upgraded goods was released, and services consumption was boosted by a number of major festivals and holidays in January and February.

Jingdezhen, the country's porcelain capital located in East China's Jiangxi Province, is another highly favored travel destination. The popularity of Jingdezhen on Tongcheng Travel increased by 331 percent year-on-year, according to the company.

A growing number of Chinese tourists are also eyeing overseas destinations, following the recent implementation of mutual visa exemptions between China and other countries. Searches for outbound travels for the holiday exceeded the same period in 2023 by 2.5 times, with Asia-Pacific destinations up 3.5 times year-on-year in searches on Airbnb, the company said in a report on Wednesday.

Since the beginning of the year, the tourism industry has been steadily expanding as the domestic, inbound and outbound tourism sectors all witnessed growing momentum with emerging new characteristics to boost consumption, Jiang Yiyi, a deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

China has concluded mutual visa-exemption agreements covering different passports with 157 countries, reached agreements or arrangements with 44 countries to simplify visa procedures, and achieved comprehensive mutual visa exemptions with 23 countries, Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said earlier in March.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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