Chinese people embrace long-distance travel as epidemic wanes

BEIJING (Xinhua) – On the first day of an eight-day holiday in China, railway passenger trips were at their highest level since the COVID-19 outbreak. Many people were taking their first long-distance tourist journeys this year.

National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival this year overlapped, leading to a combined eight-day holiday starting from Thursday. It is the first national holiday since the country resumed trans-provincial group tours in July.

Data from Airbnb showed that China’s long-distance travel would see robust growth over this holiday compared with the five-day May Day holiday.

As this holiday is particularly long, people have shown a strong interest in travelling, said Dai Bin, director of the China Tourism Academy.

Booking data has shown a larger proportion of travels over 800km, with a noted increase in journeys longer than 1,600km, said Airbnb, citing a surging search volume for trips from Shanghai to Hainan’s resort city of Sanya.

Travellers queue up to have their tickets checked at Hangzhou East Railway Station in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province. PHOTO: XINHUA

According to a report issued on September 22 by the Meituan Research Institute, about 30 per cent of tourist site ticket orders in the first half of September was made by trans-provincial travellers.

Tourists are showing a stronger willingness to make long-distance journeys, the report said.

Online travel agency Tuniu said long-distance journeys to the northwest and southwest parts of the country became “hot sellers”.

The popularity of travel to northwest China has soared in particular, according to a survey conducted by online travel agency Trip.com Group. It showed car rentals had also increased notably, with over half of all orders during the holiday coming from new users.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, many tourists have turned to recreational vehicles (RVs) for more private and secure tours.

Increased numbers of people took to renting RVs during the epidemic, and orders have increased by 10 per cent, according to the China Tourism Academy.

Data from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) showed that 75.72 per cent of the country’s travel agencies had resumed operations by mid-September, with 91 per cent of star-rated hotels reopened.

As the tourism market gets back on track, authorities have warned of epidemic risks ahead of the national holiday, demanding regular COVID-19 prevention and control measures.