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Tourism industry revived by Chinese Valentine's Day

By Wang Keju | China Daily | Updated: 2020-08-26 06:47
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Couples pose for a photo against the backdrop of a picture formed by a paddy field in Huaian, Jiangsu province, on Tuesday, which was Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine's Day. [Photo by Wang Hao/for China Daily]

Qixi Festival, or Chinese Valentine's Day, which fell on Tuesday, turned out to be a boon for the country's tourism and hospitality sectors.

Statistics from online travel agency Ctrip showed people were more eager to travel to mark the festival this year than in 2019, pushing airfares to major cities up by 17 percent year-on-year since the weekend.

"Since people were cooped up at home at the height of the pandemic in China in February and settled for a quiet and uncelebrated Valentine's Day, many couples would not miss the opportunity to celebrate their love during Qixi Festival by arranging a romantic tour," said Gou Zhipeng, chairman of Qunar, another online travel agency.

The festival, originating from a 2,000-year-old legend of two lovers, falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is sometimes called Double Seventh Festival.

Chongqing, in southwestern China, was the most popular destination according to a report released by Tongcheng, another online travel agency, followed by Chengdu in Sichuan province, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou in Guangdong province.

Xu Wenjun, 28, who writes software code in Beijing, planned a whirlwind tour with his girlfriend, taking in modern art galleries in Shanghai, classical gardens in nearby Suzhou and a feast of crabs and fish beside Taihu Lake.

"Because of our busy work schedules, we only see each other after 10 pm on weekdays. I wanted to prepare something romantic for my girlfriend on the special date to show her my love," he said, adding that a short trip was the perfect choice because the COVID-19 pandemic had been subdued in China.

Qunar said hotel reservations for Qixi Festival were up 40 percent across the country compared with last week, while Fliggy, Alibaba's online travel agency, reported a 34 percent year-on-year increase in hotel reservations.

Mi Caifeng, who owns a bed-and-breakfast inn at Mogan Mountain in Zhejiang province, saw bookings surge as couples in nearby cities such as Hangzhou and Huzhou opted for a refreshing break amid nature.

"My hotel has been fully booked during Qixi Festival," he said. "Many young people are not satisfied with only chocolates and flowers these days and prefer to celebrate the festival in a well-decorated hotel."

A range of activities featuring festive traditions helped fuel the travel boom in many places.

In Beijing, eight museums organized night events to greet the festival, with Beijing World Art Museum at the China Millennium Monument setting up a special section to display festive traditions including traditional clothing of China's Han ethnic group and moon worshipping customs.

Tian'ai Road in Shanghai, dubbed the city's most romantic road, was given a festive atmosphere at night with colorful lights, and many of its shops and restaurants offered discounts to customers during the festival.

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