The numbers were understandably well below those of last year’s event, but the 2020 edition of China’s Labor Day holidays (May 1-5) was still able to produce a total of 115 million trips over the holiday—down 41 percent over the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. But the figure exceeded expectations of about 90 million trips and was a hopeful sign, according to the Chinese travel trade.
More than half of bookings for holiday packages from Trip.com—one of China’s largest travel companies—were made by travelers born in 1990 or later, known as China’s post-90s and post-00s generations. Overall, Trip.com said it saw bookings made on April 29 for air, rail and car transport for the holiday were 130 percent higher than all of the bookings for the week of April 24-29.
A common theme to most of the coverage of the Labor Day holiday period was that it would signal how well the Chinese people were ready to travel in the shadow of the COVID-19-driven global pandemic, and if most Chinese would likely favor a trip nearer to home than outside China or overseas.
The answer? A new survey conducted just before the holiday began by the global research and analysis firm Oliver Wyman indicated that, when it concerns destination selection, almost four out of five respondents to the survey said that they would prefer a domestic destination for their first trip after the epidemic subsides. Other than the reduced time and/or budget available for travel, “the unfriendly attitude of foreign governments and/or foreigners during the epidemic” were also cited as other reasons for travelers’ preferring “to go to domestic destinations,” is also being cited a reason for domestic tourism. Yunnan, Beijing and Chongqing were among the top 10 most popular domestic destinations on travelers’ wish lists.
TUI Ready to Go in China: Another indication that Chinese consumers were ready to travel lay elsewhere—at TUI China, the Chinese brand of the world’s largest integrated travel group. Beijing-headquartered TUI China, which has a partnership with Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency, has resumed business operations and is offering domestic travel for vacationers in China. Just three months after the it had to completely stop selling travel, TUI China is now offering short trips to mountain and Chinese beach resorts under the brand “TUI Selection.” Programs for vacations in larger cities are also included in the portfolio. This means that tourism and air travel will take place in China again—no one, however, knows how soon.
“Our offices in Beijing and Shanghai were also in use during the crisis, but travel packages were not allowed to be sold. Now we see a clear need to catch up on vacation trips. TUI China will gradually expand its offers over the next few weeks,” said TUI CEO Fritz Joussen.