China’s Labor Day Holiday Travel Spending Shows Steady Recovery

LONDON — Fresh data surrounding the five-day Labor Day national holiday, which ended Wednesday, this year shows that domestic travel in China has almost fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some 230 million domestic trips were made over the first major break in China since the virus began to emerge last year, a 119.7 percent increase compared to 2020, and a 3.2 percent rise compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Tourism-related revenue made over the period reached over 113 billion renminbi, or $17 billion, up 138.1 percent from 2020. However, this only represented a 77 percent recovery from the pre-pandemic level.

Popular destinations such as Hainan Island, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Chengdu, and Xi’an are recovering faster than the rest.

In Hainan Island, duty-free sales during the break were up 248 percent year-over-year to 993 million renminbi, or $153.3 million, Haikou Customs said.

Since last June, the central government tripled the per-person duty-free shopping allowance from 30,000 renminbi to 100,000 renminbi on the island.

In Shanghai, the city’s offline spending during the break totaled 19.65 billion renminbi, or $3.04 billion, surging 30.4 percent from a year earlier and 9.6 percent higher than in the same period in 2019, according to the Shanghai Consumer Market Big Data Laboratory.

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During the holiday, luxury goods, cosmetics and automobiles posted the most significant growth. Key luxury goods companies saw sales rise 62.8 percent over the holiday period compared with last year.

Bookings for the holiday on Trip.com Group, one of China’s largest travel service providers, jumped 270 percent year-over-year, and a 30 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019.

The platform added that single-day orders for attraction tickets during the break rose fivefold over the same day in 2019, and growth of orders for car rentals for the holiday marked the highest rise of 330 percent on a single day compared with the same period in 2019.

Data from Qunar, another leading booking agency in China, showed that reservations for holiday air tickets rose by 30 percent and those for hotels by 40 percent over 2019, and average spending also reached a new height this year.

China’s railway network also saw the daily number of railway passenger trips during the holiday period exceed pre-COVID-19 levels. On Wednesday, 17.2 million railway trips were made, an increase of 30 percent from the same period in 2019, according to China State Railway Group, the national railway operator.

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