China Sees Travel Frenzy during May Day Holiday

During the recently concluded May Day holiday in China, both the number of travelers and domestic tourism revenue surpassed pre-epidemic levels. The catering industry experienced a significant increase in sales, while third- and fourth-tier cities witnessed a surge in their tourism market. However, outbound travel has not yet fully recovered, and box office revenues for movies have not reached the same level as that during the corresponding period in 2019.

In China, during the May Day holiday, 274 million domestic tourists traveled and generated a revenue of 148.056 billion yuan ($21.5 billion) in the tourism industry as per data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Tourists are increasingly drawn to third- and fourth-tier cities. Tongcheng Travel’s data reveals that hotel bookings in domestic third-tier and lower cities during the holiday surged by over 150% compared to the same period in 2019. This year, Zibo City in Shangdong Province gained popularity after being dubbed the “outdoor barbecue capital,” sparking an online craze. Qunar’s data indicates that high-end and comfortable hotels constituted 48% of total bookings during the holiday, marking a 9 percentage point increase from the same period in 2019.

Based on data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, a total of 80,089 flights were provided by civil aviation during the holiday period from April 29th to May 3rd. This equates to an average of 16,017 flights per day and is comparable to flight numbers during the same period in 2019. While domestic flight volume has surpassed pre-epidemic levels, international flight volume remains below half its previous capacity.

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Outbound tourism is showing signs of gradual recovery. Qunar’s data indicates that the volume of outbound flight ticket bookings during the holiday season has reached 45% of what it was in the same period in 2019. Similarly, Tongcheng Travel reports that its platform’s international hotel bookings have surpassed those from the corresponding period in 2019, and international flight ticket bookings have returned to their pre-pandemic levels.

Based on data from the Ministry of Commerce, key retail and catering enterprises across the country experienced a year-on-year increase in sales of 21.4% and 15.6%, respectively, on both the first and third day of the May Day holiday. Additionally, as per Dengta, a live movie information tracking app, as of 5:30 pm on May 3rd, the total box office (including pre-sales) for this holiday reached 1.471 billion yuan, which is almost equivalent to that during the same period in 2019 and more than 80% of that in 2021.