Domestic tourism is projected to rebound during the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday with short-distance trips remaining a popular choice for travelers due to some travel restrictions in areas experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.
Popular for family reunions, the three-day holiday starts on Saturday. Travel agencies estimate that the holiday will provide the strongest boost for the tourism industry's recovery this year after the market showed a lackluster performance in the first half due to the impact of the epidemic.
The latest figures from travel portal Fliggy show that most of its users are choosing to travel to areas with lower infection risks within a two-hour drive. Hotel bookings on its platform also indicate an increase in short-distance journeys.
It said that in the week from Aug 29 to Sept 4, reservations for hotels near where its users work or live rose by 1.7 times compared with the previous week, and sales of tickets for attractions in these places increased by 2.3 times from the previous week.
To manage any possible outbreaks during the coming holiday, several provinces and regions have updated their COVID-19 prevention and control policies. Beijing, for example, suggests that residents not travel to areas with high or medium infection risks or places with recently reported confirmed cases. Those who plan to travel to Beijing should have a negative nucleic acid test result from within 24 hours and take a nucleic acid test within 72 hours of arriving in the city.
Online travel services provider Tuniu said that 68 percent of its users are choosing to take short-distance tours during the holiday.
However, bookings for medium-and long-distance travel have also increased for the coming holiday. Trip.com Group, an online travel agency, said that as of Aug 30, bookings of its tour products for the three-day holiday had risen 137 percent when compared to the Dragon Boat Festival holiday in June.
It said that of these reservations, 47 percent were for short-distance tours and 53 percent were for long-distance ones. Bookings for long-distance tours had risen by nearly 30 percent from the Dragon Boat Festival.
Zuo Wei, a researcher at the New Era Culture and Tourism Institute, a third-party think tank, predicts that short-distance travel will be preferred this holiday, and people with children, and younger adults will make up the bulk of travelers. "Night tours will also surge as appreciating the moon is one of the festival traditions," she added.
Fliggy showed that reservations for night tour activities such as light shows and boat cruises along the Huangpu River in Shanghai increased by 146 percent in the past week.
"My husband and I plan to go on a short trip to Pinggu district in Beijing this holiday, renting a recreational vehicle," said Dong Jie, a 31-year-old from Beijing. "We plan to appreciate the moon and eat mooncakes in the RV, which is romantic."
She said that they had booked a trip to Tianjin to spend the holiday half a month ago but canceled due to the epidemic control policy. "It's fine for us as we planned to drive to Tianjin. Now, Yanqing is also a good choice. We just want to relax, no matter the destination."
Tuniu said that self-driving tours will see robust growth during the holiday. It said that people from 26 to 35 years old show a higher preference for traveling on their own, and those living in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, as well as Shanghai and Beijing are more interested in self-driving trips to spend the holiday.