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Chinese tourists set to break records with $1.3 trillion domestic holiday spending

Image Credits: UnsplashImage Credits: Unsplash
  • Chinese tourists are expected to spend a record $1.3 trillion on domestic holidays in 2024.
  • Local governments are actively promoting tourism through social media and subsidies, leading to significant growth in tourism bookings.
  • The extensive high-speed train and flight network in China has made it easier for tourists to explore lesser-known destinations, contributing to the surge in domestic travel.

China's tourism industry is poised for a remarkable year as domestic holiday spending is projected to reach an unprecedented $1.3 trillion. This surge in local travel underscores a significant shift in consumer behavior and highlights the resilience of the Chinese economy in the post-pandemic era.

According to recent reports, spending by China's domestic holidaymakers is expected to be 11 percent higher than in 2019, marking a substantial recovery and growth in the tourism sector. This trend is driven by several factors, including the abundance of attractive domestic travel options, the high cost of international travel, and the ongoing efforts by local governments to promote tourism.

A survey by consulting firm Oliver Wyman revealed that only 14% of high-income Chinese households plan to travel internationally in 2024. Instead, they are opting for more affordable and equally appealing destinations within China. This preference for domestic travel is further fueled by the extensive high-speed train and flight network, making it easier for tourists to explore lesser-known towns and cities.

Local governments have been proactive in leveraging social media to attract tourists. For instance, destinations like Yangzhou, Luoyang, Qinhuangdao, Guilin, and Zibo have seen significant growth in tourism bookings during the May holiday. The southern Guangxi autonomous region, known for Guilin's famous limestone hills, has implemented a plan to boost consumption by increasing publicity and offering tourist subsidies. As a result, the region's tourism revenue rose by nearly 24% year-on-year in the first quarter.

The Nanjing city wall tourist site, located about 2.5 hours east of Guangxi, received nearly 1.3 million visitors in the first quarter, generating a revenue of 19.2 million yuan – double that of 2019. This surge in local tourism is not only revitalizing the economy but also providing emotional fulfillment for travelers who are rediscovering the beauty and diversity of their own country.

China's extensive high-speed train and flight network has made it easier for people to visit smaller towns, even for short stays. Domestic air ticket bookings on Trip.com surged by 30% in the first quarter, with Chinese consumers placing greater emphasis on emotional fulfillment.

Businesses and local governments are collaborating to boost attention and revenue. Officials from tourist spots and local governments have reached out to the Miss Tourism Asia pageant for promotions.

Oliver Wyman forecasts that a full recovery in international travel to 2019 levels is unlikely until late 2025, as Chinese consumers continue to favor domestic travel. In the long term, international tourist destinations will need to upgrade their offerings to compete with China's modern hotels and travel services.

Chinese tourists are increasingly discerning, and Dudarenok, founder of ChoZan, expects that international tourist destinations will need to enhance their experiences to attract Chinese travelers.

The May Day holiday this year saw a total of 295 million tourism trips nationwide, up 7.6 percent year-on-year, according to data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Domestic tourists spent a total of 166.89 billion yuan ($23.12 billion) during this period, a 12.7 percent increase year-on-year. This data reflects the vitality of China's economy and the growing importance of domestic tourism in driving economic recovery.

The record-breaking $1.3 trillion spending by Chinese tourists on domestic holidays is a testament to the country's robust economic recovery and the evolving travel preferences of its citizens. As local destinations continue to attract more visitors, the tourism industry is set to play a crucial role in China's economic growth and development.

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