Beijing is offering up to 30 million yuan ($4.46 million) worth of coupons for accommodation, as part of its efforts to speed up the recovery of tourism and boost consumption.
The coupons are issued from July 10 to Sept 30 via online travel platform Qunar and consumers can use them when booking specific hotels and homestays in the city's 10 outlying areas such as Mentougou, Yanqing and Huairou districts, said Liu Bin, deputy director of the Beijing Bureau of Culture and Tourism.
Gou Zhipeng, president of Qunar, said that the vouchers are distributed at the perfect time as pandemic-induced travel restrictions have been eased and most students will be soon on their summer vacation.
"Beijing's suburban areas are home to a number of renowned scenic spots. This measure will help to unleash people's pent-up travel demands and accelerate the recovery of the tourism market," he added.
The vouchers are valid for a host of quality homestays and high-end hotels including those near tourist attractions. Each person is allowed to get one coupon per month, which gives a discount of 50 percent with a price cut of up to 1,000 yuan, according to the bureau.
Data from Qunar showed that searches for hotels in the suburbs soared by 21 times during the first hour after the coupons' distribution on July 10. The capital's eastern Tongzhou district is the most favored destination in terms of hotel bookings, followed by Miyun and Changping districts.
A local resident surnamed Shang said she had planned to book a luxury hotel in Tongzhou for only one night due to the high room rate, but with the voucher, she decided to stay for one more night.
"Our journey will be more relaxing and we can spend more time at scenic sites," Shang said.
Domestic tourism has seen a stable recovery since early June as recent COVID-19 outbreaks gradually subsided.
At the end of last month, the nation removed the cautionary asterisks marking all travel codes to alleviate restrictions on domestic travel, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
From July 1-7, the volume of hotel bookings nationwide rose 21 percent week-on-week, exceeding that of the same period in 2019, according to figures from Qunar. Many popular tourist cities such as Sanya, Changsha, Beijing and Chengdu registered a jump in hotel and flight reservations.
Liu said the municipal culture and tourism bureau will further motivate residents to travel by releasing a list of 10 spots for excursions as well as 21 cycling routes to experience local culture.
Meanwhile, the bureau plans to set favorable policies for the camping industry and recommend five to 10 local campsites to tourists, considering the huge popularity of camping trips, he said.
Beijing will also hand out restaurant coupons valued at 100 million yuan in July and launch an array of cultural activities over the coming months to stimulate consumption and shake off the impact from the latest COVID-19 wave, according to the city government.