China domestic tourism picks up over Lunar New Year as Covid-19 curbs end

From Jan 21-26, a total of 2.39 million trips were made out of and into China, up 123.9 per cent. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - Almost a quarter more domestic Chinese tourism trips have been made during this year’s Chinese New Year holiday, while trips into and out of China have more than doubled in the first six days of the week-long break compared with the same period last year, after the end of strict Covid-19 curbs.

A total of 308 million tourism trips within China have been made during the current holiday period, up 23.1 per cent from 2022‘s Chinese New Year break and marking a recovery to 88.6 per cent of the number in 2019, data from the culture and tourism ministry showed on Friday.

China in December began dismantling its stringent zero-Covid measures after nearly three years that saw intermittent citywide lockdowns, slower economic growth and a disrupted tourism and hospitality sector.

Revenue generated from domestic tourism during this year’s holiday stands at 375.84 billion yuan (S$72.9 billion), or 73.1 per cent of that in 2019, according to the tourism ministry data.

From Jan 21-26, a total of 2.39 million trips were made out of and into China, up 123.9 per cent compared with the level in the Jan 31 to Feb 5 period last year, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) said in a statement, citing data on trips made by various means of transport.

In early January, following a broad nationwide relaxation of Covid-19 prevention policies, authorities ended a requirement that inbound travellers had to go into quarantine at a hotel upon arrival, a policy that had crippled international travel for about three years.

Despite the improvement in numbers this year for the seven-day holiday period, travel has yet to rebound to pre-pandemic levels.

During the Chinese New Year holiday in 2019, a total of 12.53 million cross-border trips were made, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

For the Jan 21-26 period this year, inbound trips totalled 1.2 million, representing a 127.2 per cent increase from the first six days of the holiday last year, while 1.19 million outbound trips were made, up 120.7 per cent, the NIA said.

Data from the Ctrip travel company showed domestic and international travel orders on its platform for the Chinese New Year holiday both increased to a three-year peak in 2023, with four times as many overall travel orders this year as last year. REUTERS

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