Is the Newly Extended Four-day Labor Day Holiday in China Driving Local Tourism?

Just as news broke that the labor day holiday was extended to four days in China, many had already started booking hotels and tickets.

The extended four-day labor day holiday has no doubt contributed to the national economy. According to statistics, the total domestic income from tourism reached as much as 117.67 billion yuan.

On May 4th,, a ticket booking platform, released its figures for the holiday, stating that the total number of travelers increased by 51% year-on-year, with domestic tourism soaring by 51% and outbound tourism by 63%.

According to Tuniu, one of the most inclusive tourism data websites in China, 26% of tourists travel for 5 – 6 days, while those who travel for 7 days or more account for roughly 29%. Around 45% of vacationers would prefer 4 days or less. Among all travelers, 32% were born in the 80’s and 26% represent the post-90’s generation, which correlates with their rising consumption power. Younger generations are usually more eager to hit the road, given they have money and time. However, most baby boomers are also becoming passionate travelers after retirement, obtaining more free-time and energy. Approximately 15% of those traveling from January to May 2019 were people born in the 50’s and 60’s, according to C-trip.

Outbound tourism also saw a boost in numbers thanks to the extended holiday. According to a report by Lvmama, a popular travel app, the total number of outbound trips grew by nearly 10% compared to last year. Short distance outbound tourism tops the list. The hottest tourist destinations among the Chinese are said to be Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, America, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Russia.

Thailand and Japan have been listed in the top three ever since the first introduced a visa free policy towards Chinese tourists and the second simplified its visa regime. Family-friendly tourist destinations like Hong Kong Disneyland, Osaka Universal Studio, Singapore Universal Studios also made the top of the list. According to Hong Kong’s immigration department, the total number of people passing through the customs during the holiday reached over 4.4 million.

Tuniu reports that Chinese tourists are mostly attracted by tropical islands like Phuket, the Maldives, Okinawa, Saipan, Samui, etc.

As for domestic tourism, the top ten locations for Chinese tourists are Sanya, Lijiang (Yunnan province), Xiamen, Guilin, Beijing, Xi’an, Leshan (Sichuan province), Zhangjiajie (Hunan province), Qingdao and Kunming.

Domestic destinations made famous by internet celebrities

Among others, there are also several tourist destinations made popular not by their natural beauty or cultural heritage, but by internet celebrities, those include the Palace Museum in Beijing, Hongyadong stilted house complex in Chongqing, Erhai Lake (“Ear-shaped Sea”) in Dali, Lugu Lake in Lijiang and Daocheng Yading in Sichuan. Some are known as popular filming sites.

As an ancient capital of thirteen dynasties, Xi’an is one of the most frequently mentioned cities on the short video platform Douyin (TikTok) and has attracted a plethora of tourists during the holiday. People line up for hours in front of the Yong Xingfang, a liquor bar known on Douyin for their “smashing-bowl liquor”, which literally means that tourists get to smash their bowl after they gulp down the strong liquor. In some way it is an epitome of the tough local character. There are over 610,000 videos about Xi’an on Douyin right now, with more than 3.6 billion views, and 100 million likes in total.

smashing-bowl liquor in Douyin

Another popular place among the Douyin crowd is Chongqing, a city bordering Sichuan province nicknamed the “mountain city”. Its hilly up-and-down terrain makes it look like a real cyberpunk city, with the most popular photo-taking spot being where the light train goes right through a residential building.

light train going through a residential building in Chongqing

The family TV series All is Well is responsible for flooding Suzhou with hordes of young travelers, who go there to take selfies at the filming locations. The old residence shown in the TV series has now become a popular check-in destination for holidaymakers.

However, flourishing tourism comes with its nuances. Some reports show that several visitors had been hoodwinked in Suzhou by being led astray to fake tourist destinations.

Modes of traveling are also evolving, from group tours to self-guided tours. Group tours thriving back in the 90’s and early 2000’s when traveling apps were still in their infancy. Taobao and traveling apps like C-trip, Fliggy and Ma Fengwo, made self-guided travelers way more accessible and coveniet. Visas to most countries and tickets to major tourist attractions can be taken care of via Taobao, and apps like C-trip provide access to air tickets, hotels and customized city tours.

Who knows, perhaps we should consider extending the four-day holiday to seven days after all.

Featured photo credit to