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 China’s Travel Spending Surges During Dragon Boat Holiday, Indicating a More Stable Tourism Market

by CiCi
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China’s tourism sector demonstrated resilience and growth over the recent three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, surpassing figures from both the previous year and pre-pandemic levels in 2019, despite ongoing economic challenges.

According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Chinese citizens embarked on 110 million trips from Saturday through Monday, marking a 6.3% increase compared to the previous year. Concurrently, travelers spent 40.35 billion yuan (US$5.56 billion), reflecting an 8.1% rise from the same holiday period in 2023.

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In a statement released on Monday, the ministry affirmed the stability and orderliness of the domestic culture and tourism markets.

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The positive momentum in revenue during the extended weekend forecasts promising outcomes for China’s upcoming summer holiday season. Steven Zhao, CEO of the China Highlights online travel agency, noted that although this year’s summer vacation metrics might not match the explosive growth witnessed last year post-lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, the conclusion of university admission exams will likely stimulate family travel.

Zhao expressed optimism regarding the stability of this summer’s travel boom, attributing it partly to the significant cohort of student travelers.

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, China recorded 96 million trips and 39.33 billion yuan in spending during the Dragon Boat Festival weekend.

The surge in travel activity during the recent holiday period follows a similar trend observed during the five-day May Day break. Ministry data revealed a 7.6% year-on-year increase in domestic trips, with revenue reaching 166.89 billion yuan, marking a 12.7% rise from the previous year and a 13.5% increase over 2019 levels.

The Global Times reported that the growth in May Day travel and spending surpassed that of earlier holidays, such as the Ching Ming Festival in April and the Spring Festival in February.

National Immigration Administration data indicated a notable influx of 5.75 million people into mainland China during the Dragon Boat Festival weekend, signifying a 45.1% increase compared to the 2023 period.

Tourism serves as a barometer of consumer confidence amidst China’s evolving economic landscape since the relaxation of zero-Covid controls in late 2022, particularly in the realm of consumption.

During the recent Dragon Boat Festival holiday, parks and seashores across China were inundated with crowds of travelers, many accompanied by children and equipped with mobile cameras. Various activities, including dragon boat races and traditional rice dumpling consumption, were observed, alongside a preference for experiential travel to farms and recreational spaces in shopping districts.

Zhang Chen, vice-president of the Chinese travel platform Fliggy, regarded the Dragon Boat Festival as a precursor to the forthcoming peak vacation season. Zhang expressed optimism regarding travelers’ enthusiasm and proactive planning, underscoring expectations for robust growth in domestic tourism spending this summer.

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