The upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sept 10 this year, is expected to improve the performance of the domestic tourism market in short holiday breaks, as the market gradually recovers from the negative impact of COVID-19, said a recent report.
As of Aug 30, Trip.com Group, China's largest online travel agency, saw the booking volumes of domestic flight tickets double and train tickets soar fivefold for Mid-Autumn Festival, compared with those recorded during Dragon Boat Festival holiday in June.
Meanwhile, group tours and theme tours have seen a notable recovery trend, and the booking volumes of the two categories on Trip.com surged 453 percent and 525 percent over the same period respectively, the company said.
Though the holiday is only three days long, demand for long-distance travel has climbed compared with Dragon Boat Festival, thanks to the optimization of COVID-19 protocols in many cities and consumers' recovering travel enthusiasm.
"This year, tourists shortened their decision time and booked trips only a few days in advance, and cancellation rates have been higher. This has worsened the operational uncertainty of many businesses from the supply side," said Xie Xiaoqing, a senior researcher at the Trip.com research institute.
"Whether the long-distance domestic travel market can further boost growth still depends on the COVID-19 situation in various places. How to encourage revisits with more and upgraded products and content has become a new challenge for tourism businesses," Xie said.
Camping, which emerged as a bright spot in the tourism market this year, has seen its popularity continue. The gross merchandise volume of camping product bookings for Mid-Autumn Festival jumped 58 percent over Dragon Boat Festival. What young travelers care about most includes whether there are any interesting activities, the beauty of the surrounding landscape and the quality of the selfies they can take, Trip.com said.
In addition, moon-watching, a traditional Mid-Autumn Festival cultural custom, has driven growth in the local night tourism market. Visiting theme parks, taking river cruise tours and evening sightseeing excursions in the city are particularly favored by consumers, said Tongcheng Travel, an online travel agency.
Although Mid-Autumn Festival is a holiday for family reunions when most people take trips to visit their family members, there are increasing numbers opting for leisure vacations. Consumers from the Yangtze River Delta region and the Pearl River Delta region have shown higher travel demand, Tongcheng said.
Starting Monday, the fuel surcharge for flight tickets will be reduced again after a drop that took place in August. A fuel surcharge of 60 yuan ($8.7) will be charged for each passenger on domestic flights of less than 800 kilometers, and 120 yuan will be charged for each passenger on flights of more than 800 km. Both will be at 20 yuan less than the current levels, according to domestic carriers.
"The further decline of fuel surcharges will be beneficial for the business performance of the domestic air travel market. For the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday, more people are expected to travel by flight," said Cheng Chaogong, chief of tourism research at Tongcheng.