Robust holiday travel expected in China despite new outbreak
New outbreak doesn't affect mood, but caution remains
Published: Sep 16, 2021 10:11 PM
A tourist poses for photos with the Temple of Heaven during the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 4, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

A tourist poses for photos with the Temple of Heaven during the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 4, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

As the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches, Chinese consumers' thirst for travel appears resilient in the face of a recent COVID-19 outbreak in East China's Fujian Province as well as weaker-than-expected retail sales growth in August.

Still, Chinese officials are seeking to ensure COVID-19 worry-free travel and are taking a cautious approach to any destinations that are experiencing new infections, announcing specific measures, including a "circuit breaker" mechanism, to ensure safety.  

There have been no signs of the latest domestic outbreak in Fujian spreading to other parts of the country. The Chinese mainland reported 49 new local COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 48 in Fujian and one in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, the National Health Commission said on Thursday.

Putting in place necessary public health and safety measure and following China's success in suppressing the virus over the May Day holiday, demand for intra-provincial and regional tourism during the Mid-Autumn festival holiday is expected to remain high, a travel analyst surnamed Huang told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Tourism over the National Day holiday is expected to be even more robust than was previously expected. As long as there won't be an outbreak like the one at Nanjing Lukou International Airport, tourism demand won't significantly be affected," Huang added.

Despite the cautiously positive outlook, Chinese officials remain committed to putting public safety first. 

With the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holidays drawing near, a "circuit breaker" mechanism for cross-provincial traveling operations will be strictly implemented, Hou Zhengang, an official with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, told a press conference in Beijing on Thursday. 

The mechanism stipulates that in provincial regions that become designated as medium- or high-risk areas, cross-provincial group travelling, and ticket and hotel reservation services will be immediately halted, in case of new infections.

Universal Beijing Resort is ranked among the hottest tourist destinations for the Mid-Autumn Festival, according to a report online travel platform sent to the Global Times. 

As of September 6, the top 10 most popular Mid-Autumn Festival scenic spots included Universal Beijing Resort, Chimelong Tourism Resort, Shanghai Disney Resort, the Palace Museum, Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park and the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding, according to the report.

Beijing is the top destination for the upcoming holidays, with netizens saying there will be huge crowds wearing Hanfu heading for the Palace Museum, while another huge crowd wearing wizard robes heading to the Universal. And that they could meet each other on the metro line 1, which runs through both venues.

In another positive sign, advance booking volume for top 10 destinations for short-term home rental on guest house platform Tujia, dubbed as "China's Airbnb", for the Mid-Autumn and National Day holidays surpassed that of the same period last year, and the hot search topics related to guesthouse in September increased by more than 300 percent from August, Tujia said in a report sent to the Global Times.

The Tujia list revealed 10 esoteric destinations for guesthouse in China that have seen a stronger rise in the post-epidemic period, with Kashgar and Altay City in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Yanbian in Northeast China's Jilin Province ranked in the top three. The number of orders for home rental in Kashgar for the upcoming two festivals surged by nearly 10 times compared with 2020.

At present, the total number of orders of homestay on Tujia has increased by more than 220 percent on a yearly basis, and the average price has increased by more than 33 percent. 

The numbers have done much to fend off woes over travel sentiment being dented by weaker-than-expected retail sales growth for August.

China's top economic planner said Thursday that the recent slowdown in consumption growth is mainly due to the impact of regional flooding and the ongoing epidemic. 

In August, total retail sales of consumer goods stood at 3.44 trillion yuan ($534 billion), up 2.5 percent year-on-year, but down 6.0 percentage points from the previous month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Wednesday.

However, analysts believe such an impact is temporary and limited to certain sectors within the economy, and consumption will continue to recover as the epidemic is effectively controlled and consumption promotion policies are further strengthened, according to the top economic planner.

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