While it will not have any impact on outbound long-haul travel (say, to the United States), there is expected to be a surge in domestic demand beginning with the launch tomorrow of China’s all-important National Day Holiday. A strong travel demand has been made even stronger by this year’s longer holiday as the Mid-Autumn Festival, which also falls on Oct 1, will overlap with the weeklong National Day holiday, giving people an extended holiday of eight days until Oct 8.
Commonly referred to as Golden Week, the period accounts for a substantial share of the country’s overall annual travel and tourism expenditures.
Also factoring into the expectations for a domestic travel boom in China is the sense that the holiday is made all the more meaningful by its place on the calendar as the first significant travel holiday in 2020 without heavy restrictions since the emergence earlier this year, in China, of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic. Then, too, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time to factor in visits to relatives and for family reunions.
Published reports indicate that high-speed passenger railroads are booked to capacity for travel to and from different parts of the country. And according to an item earlier this month in China.or.cn, Haikou Meilan International Airport in the capital of Hainan province, for example, will add and/or resume more than 1,500 flights to meet the demand of the travel spike expected for the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holidays.
Also, about 1,346 flights are expected to be added connecting Haikou with major tourist cities including Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, Wuhan in Hubei province, and Shanghai. Further, about 180 flights are scheduled to resume operation, according to the airport.
Now, as noted above, while all of this domestic travel activity won’t have a direct impact on international or long-haul overseas journeys by Chinese travelers, it suggests that the “travel aptitude” of the Chinese consumer is high and that they are ready to travel abroad—both to regional destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, and to long-haul destinations in Europe and North America.
Posing a major challenge to a positive outlook for a renewed travel between China and the U.S. are muddled political relations, as well as tensions over trade matters. Even if air traffic between the United States and China is restored to pre-pandemic flight levels—not a great probability at all—it will take some time for U.S. receptive tour operators, travel suppliers and destinations to re-integrate into the distribution channels of China.
In the meantime, this week’s expectations for strong domestic activity in China will stoke the hopes of those promoting the USA. And, as the author Vera Mazarian has told us, “Hope is the last thing that dies.”