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Chinese travel bookings triple during 'hottest' public holiday since the pandemic

Chinese travel bookings triple during 'hottest' public holiday since the pandemic

5/6/2021 12:06:00 PM

Chinese travel bookings triple during 'hottest' public holiday since the pandemic

The surge in domestic travel comes as the coronavirus pandemic keeps Chinese from venturing overseas.

Overall, a record 230 million trips were taken within the country during that period, an increase of nearly 18% from 2019 levels, according to figures from China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism.However, total spending of 113.23 billion yuan ($17.48 billion) fell short of 2019's expenditure by about 4 billion yuan, the data showed.

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At that level, spending per capita during the holiday was about 75% of what it was in 2019, said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management. "Overall the economic trend continues to improve, but part of the service sector (is) not yet back to the pre-Covid level."

Spending by individual consumers has lagged the recovery in China's economy since Covid-19 temporarily forced more than half the country to shut down in early 2020. Retail sales fell last year despite overall GDP growth, before surging in the first quarter of 2021.

International travelers turn to HainanThe rush to travel domestically comes as quarantine requirements and travel bans keep most Chinese from venturing overseas.Chinese international travel plunged 87% last year and will not likely return to pre-pandemic levels until the second quarter of 2023, consultancy Oliver Wyman said in a report last week.

That means billions of dollars not spent overseas can potentially be spent at home or saved for future purchases, the report said, pointing out that Chinese consumers spent $245 billion abroad in 2019.The analysis found that nearly 60% of those travelers are turning to the southern tropical island province of Hainan, which has expanded its duty-free shopping centers in the last few years.

For high-end luxury brands, Hainan will become much more attractive to them if in the future they can open their own stores instead of through a duty-free operator. Read more: CNBC »

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