Citizens enjoy boating at the Summer Palace on June 3, Dragon Boat Festival, in Beijing. (Photo by Jiang Dong/chinadaily.com.cn)
China's domestic tourism market registered a steady recovery over the just concluded Dragon Boat Festival holiday from June 3 to 5, after authorities fine-tuned COVID-19 containment measures for travel against the backdrop of a stabilizing epidemic situation nationwide.
Figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism released on Sunday said the three-day holiday saw more than 79.6 million trips made nationwide, down by 10.7 percent from the same period last year. The figure is 86.8 percent of the total in 2019 before COVID-19 hit the nation.
The ministry said that tourism-related revenue also recovered to about 25.8 billion yuan ($3.87 billion) over the holiday break. The figure is about 65.6 percent of the revenue generated during the same period in 2019.
Zhang Zhining, deputy director of Trip.com Group's strategic research center, said with the COVID-19 outbreaks under control, the three-day holiday may have become an important turning point for the domestic tourism industry given the steady recovery in both travel numbers and revenue.
Some domestic long-distance destinations such as Southwest China's Yunnan, Guizhou and Hainan provinces in the south and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in the northwest also witnessed an upturn in their numbers thanks to the fine-tuned travel regulations, under which 29 provinces and regions nationwide have resumed cross-provincial group tours.
Yang Guanghui, manager for vacation products at Qunar, an online travel agency, said that searches for tour products to Sanya in Hainan, Chengdu in Sichuan province and Chongqing reached a new high on their platform during the holiday. Searches for Sanya, famous for its scenic environment and tropical climate, saw three-fold growth from the previous weekend.
Travel agencies said that rural homestays and camping registered a good performance in attracting travelers over the break. Trip.com said that in the first two days of the holiday, orders on its platform for homestays rose by 10 percent compared with the same period of 2019 and were 57 percent higher than the first two days of the Tomb Sweeping holiday in April.
Visiting cultural attractions and attending special activities were popular choices for travelers, such as watching dragon boat races and wrapping zongzi, or glutinous rice dumplings, the major delicacy of the festival, travel agencies said.
Just before the holiday started, the ministry announced an easing in travel restrictions.
Travel agencies were required to suspend cross-provincial tourism services when the departure or destination provinces contained areas with medium or high risk of infection. This measure had begun in August when central departments tightened control measures against COVID-19.
The ministry refined the rule by narrowing its scope. Travel agencies are required to suspend group tour services in counties or districts with medium or high infection risks. This also affected their abilities to book hotels and flights.