Insiders are holding cautious but positive attitudes toward the peak summer tourism market as the central government takes more precise COVID-19 prevention measures to help the industry recover.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism released a notice on July 7 resuming travel agencies' operation of tourist trains, which are designed to stop at stations near tourism attractions. The service was suspended due to epidemic controls in October 2021.
Figures from travel agencies showed a good start to the summer season the previous week after the nation's schools began their vacations earlier this month.
Qunar, an online travel agency, said that over the weekend, sales of flights rose by 26 percent from the previous weekend. Sales of train tickets also showed a good performance, growing by 50 percent over the three days.
"The figures we've seen so far show good momentum and are increasing, suggesting the tourism market will embrace a boom over the summertime when the COVID-19 epidemic is under good control," said Huang Xiaojie, chief marketing officer of Qunar.
She said that hotel reservations for the summer holiday started in late June and showed a continuous increase of 20 percent in the past few weeks.
Figures given by Tuniu, another online travel agency, also imply a good start to the summer. It said that bookings on its platform for family trips rose 51 percent this week, with half of the reservations for cross-provincial trips.
Since late June, the nation has gradually loosened prevention and control measures against the COVID-19 epidemic, heightening people's confidence to travel.
On June 29, the nation removed the cautionary asterisks marking all travel codes to alleviate restrictions on domestic travel. Previously, an asterisk indicated a person had visited a city or prefecture with a medium or high risk of infection in the past 14 days, which would restrict their travel. However, the asterisks do not indicate a person's health status, and were only meant to serve as a warning to people about medium and high-risk areas that they should avoid.
"But we are still cautious about the summer market even though the travel restrictions have loosened. The market is in recovery but not surging in the summertime, from my perspective," said Wei Changren, general manager of tourism industry analysis site Ctcnn.com.
He said that the tourism industry will still be affected by the COVID-19 epidemic as the travel restrictions have been loosened but not canceled.
"Travelers may have concerns that their trips will be canceled or influenced whenever the destinations have confirmed cases," he said. "The short-distance tours near the travelers' work or homes are still popular choices, while people may hesitate to take a long-distance trip because of uncertainties brought by the epidemic."