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Country's tourism market off to a robust start in 2024

By Cheng Si | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-03 07:24
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Visitors pose for photos at Harbin Ice and Snow World in Heilongjiang province on Sunday. WANG JIANWEI/XINHUA

China's tourism market got off to a robust start in 2024, with the just-concluded New Year's Day holiday witnessing a surge in travel to domestic and overseas destinations, surpassing pre-pandemic levels in both visitor numbers and revenue.

During the three-day break from Saturday to Monday, domestic destinations welcomed 135 million visitors, up 155.3 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said on Monday. The figure marked a 9.4 percent increase compared with 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travel.

Meanwhile, tourism-related revenue soared 200.7 percent year-on-year to over 79.7 billion yuan ($11.23 billion). Notably, this figure also stands 5.6 percent higher than that recorded in 2019, consolidating the industry's full recovery by exceeding pre-pandemic performance.

Inbound and outbound tourism also experienced a strong rebound during the holiday. According to the National Immigration Administration, departures and entries totaled about 5.18 million in the three-day period, a 4.7-times rise year-on-year and reaching the same level of that in 2019.

Figures from travel agencies also reflected this trend. Travel portal Group said domestic travel bookings for the holiday increased 168 percent year-on-year on its platform while outbound travel bookings surged 388 percent year-on-year.

"The tourism market has shown great vitality during this holiday and long-distance travel has made remarkable growth. Coastal cities such as Sanya in Hainan and Xiamen in Fujian, as well as other southern destinations such as the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Yunnan all performed well during this holiday," said Qiao Chengwei, director of travel portal Tuniu's domestic tourism department.

Among the popular destinations, areas with snow and ice scenery overwhelmingly won travelers' favor during the holiday, according to travel agencies.

For example, Harbin Ice and Snow World in Heilongjiang province — famous for snow views and ice sculptures — suspended its ticket sales on Sunday, the second day of the holiday, due to overwhelming demand.

Tujia, a homestay platform, said that more than 90 percent of Harbin's homestays available on the platform had been snapped up for the holiday. Other cities in the province, including Daqing, Jiamusi and Mudanjiang also saw their homestay bookings surge — ranging from five to 10 times from the same period in the previous year, thanks to the popularity of snow and ice tourism.

Overseas trips also saw a spike during the three-day break, especially to places with firework shows and concerts organized to welcome the new year. Group said overseas travel bookings rose by nearly four times from the same period of previous year and flight bookings to overseas destinations during the holiday increased by 265 percent year-on-year.

According to the online travel agency Qunar, the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Tokyo were the top choices for overseas trips.

"In Hong Kong and Macao, hotel rooms with a view of the fireworks shows on Sunday night were most popular, and these rooms were all booked one month ahead of the holiday," said Qunar.

On Monday, the China Tourism Academy estimated that domestic tourism will see a remarkable growth both in visitor number and revenue in 2024.

According to a report released by the academy on Monday, China will see domestic visits reaching over 6 billion and tourism-related revenue exceeding 6 trillion yuan ($841 billion) in 2024. The confident prediction is based on the good recovery of supply chains of tourism services and the tourism economy in 2023.

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