We’re back from our May Day Holiday, China’s first nationwide holiday since the lockdown lifts and ease of domestic travel restrictions.
And there’s good news for tourism in China post covid-19 – after previous positive indications, this year’s holiday showed promising signs of domestic tourism revival, having suffered through a three-month lull. As of May 5, 115 million trips were made over the holiday, resulting in RMB 47.56 billion (US$6.74 billion) in revenue for travel operators, said the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. That’s over double the 43 million trips taken over the Qingming Festival this April.
No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of people! Importantly, it’s a vote of confidence in China’s measures to curb the pandemic in its own borders.
Trends in tourism in China post covid-19:
A few things our team on the ground observed during the period:
- Shorter Trips – travelers are keen to get out and about, but their travel to avoid destinations far from home or peak travel times. According to a report released by Lvmama, a popular travel agency in China, 30 percent of its users traveled within their city of residence and 40 percent went to destinations within their province.
- Car-first trips – as part of efforts to minimize risk and increase control over their surroundings, travelers opted for car rentals. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism observed that travelers drove to destinations that they might otherwise have previously taken China’s high-speed rail to reach.
- Preference for four-star accommodation – travelers are managing risk by staying at nicer accommodation. Ctrip, one of China’s largest online travel agents, reports that 55% of accommodation bookings are at four and five-star hotels.
- Caps on tourist destination capacity – ticket sales for major tourist attractions were capped. All ticket bookings and purchases transacted online, to enable caps to be monitored and enforced in real-time. Once caps had been reached, relevant apps and online tourist agencies stopped selling tickets for that day.
- Shopping across the holiday – consumers that stayed closer to home engaged in some retail therapy. Online sales of physical goods increased 36.3 percent year on year during the May Day holiday. 28 provincial-level regions have issued over 19 billion yuan of vouchers since the outbreak to further stimulate spending.
Image: Visitors take a video as people watch the flag-raising ceremony at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing at daybreak on May 1, 2020.)[Getty/Kyodo]
What does this mean for you?
We reckon all this adds up to some positive signs for tourism providers inside and outside China:
- First and foremost, Chinese travelers are out and about again.
- Safety considerations will be a key feature of the post-COVID travel landscape. Travelers are looking for assurances that transport hubs, public transport, hotels and tourist destinations have taken adequate precautions.
- Staycations, short trips and travel in one’s ‘backyard are the first phase in a travel recovery. Hoteliers and tourism providers can orient service around local clientele, before looking ahead to return of international travelers.
- Things people do when they have time off are changing. It’s no longer the case that travelers just want to get away from it all and sit on a beach. Some look to wind down, others look to explore the unknown, others look to get ahead. Tourism operators need to be clear as to who they are serving now, and how that group’s needs may shift going forward.
Our resident China travel expert, Claudia Verbost, has helped individual travel operators, hotels and entire regions get their offer right for Chinese travelers. Keep on the lookout for her updates via LinkedIn. And, while you’re there, make sure you follow AgencyChina to keep up to date with what’s happening in China.