China's domestic tourism market is showing an upswing in short-distance tour reservations for the National Day holiday mainly due to the effective COVID-19 containment measures that have brought recent local outbreaks under control across the country.
Travel agencies said that orders for tourism products for the seven-day break, from Saturday to Oct 7, have continuously grown since Mid-Autumn Festival, which fell on Sept 10. They said the National Day holiday will bring the first travel peak since summer.
Data from online travel portal Tuniu show that its orders for travel products in the holiday rose by 38 percent from Sept 11 to Sept 17 compared with the previous week.
Trip.com Group, another online travel agency, said reservations for holiday tours are steadily increasing, with recent daily growth exceeding 30 percent. Tongcheng Travel, another portal, said online searches for its tour products for the holiday rose by 172 percent last week and searches for flight tickets and hotels increased by 136 percent.
"Domestic travel declined during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday — a traditional Chinese festival for family reunion and moon appreciation — which means people's travel needs have yet to be met," said Fang Zeqian, an industry analyst at Trip.com Group.
She said the National Day holiday is expected to create the kind of travel boom that hasn't been seen since the summer, and people may show a preference for short-distance tours over leisure resorts, or destinations not far from their homes or work out of concern over uncertainties such as sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks.
Tuniu said that around 64 percent of its users decided to take short-distance tours in the coming holiday, and residents of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province showed the most enthusiasm for these short trips.
"My husband booked a three-day, two-night trip to Jingdezhen, a city famous for handmade porcelain in Jiangxi province. We've booked train tickets and have an alternate plan of driving there in case of changes in the epidemic situation," said Ji Xiaolin, a 28-year-old in Shanghai.
"We haven't taken a trip so far this year. We plan to depart on Sept 30, a day before the holiday starts, to avoid the heavy traffic," she added. "Shorter trips are a better choice for us because of the epidemic control situation."
In addition to the domestic tourism market recovering, reservations for international trips have also shown surprising growth for the coming holiday.
Data from Tongcheng Travel, the travel portal, show that as of Sunday, orders for flight tickets from the Chinese mainland to Japan rose by 67 percent from the previous week. The portal said that the average price for flight tickets from the mainland to Japan rose by 32 percent in the coming holiday, compared with the same period of last year.
Qunar, another online travel platform, said that searches for flight tickets entering the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region saw a fourfold increase after the region loosened its entry policy on Friday. Under the new policy, travelers only have to undergo a three-day health monitoring instead of a three-day quarantine and four-day health monitoring after arriving at the region.
However, many cities and provinces across the country still maintain a cautious attitude toward the expected travel boom in the coming holidays. They have encouraged residents to stay put and spend the holiday within the cities or provinces.
The Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, released a notice on Monday, asking residents not to travel to places with medium or high infection risks and places with confirmed cases in the past seven days.
Cities like Xi'an, Shaanxi province, and Chengdu, Sichuan province, also encouraged residents to spend their holidays within the cities unless situations arose making travel necessary.