With easing restrictions on inter-provincial movement, tourism recovery may exceed expectations
Pace of China’s tourism recovery may exceed expectations: analysts
Published: Dec 06, 2022 07:24 PM Updated: Dec 06, 2022 08:24 PM
Sanya Photo: VCG

Sanya Photo: VCG

With continuous implementation of China's targeted anti-virus measures, a recovery in people's willingness to travel in the country is expected, as more provinces have announced the lifting of temporary epidemic control zones and resumption of inter-provincial travel.

Despite short-term uncertainties, recovery of domestic tourism will gain impetus as people's optimism to travel rises, analysts said.

Haikou, Sanya, Danzhou and other cities in South China's island province Hainan on Monday issued notices on adjusting pandemic prevention and control measures for people entering the province.

A retiree surnamed Liu, living in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, told the Global Times on Tuesday that she searched for flight tickets to Sanya after reading the news.

"I'm going with my relatives and friends. I had the habit of flying to Sanya in the winter for years. Shenyang had some high-risk areas this winter and I was unable to fly to Sanya due to epidemic control measures," said Liu.

Within one hour after the news was announced, online searches for air flights to Sanya increased by 1.8 times and bookings increased by 3.3 times compared with the same period on Sunday, according to data that travel platform sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

Hotel bookings in Sanya increased by three times compared with Sunday. Flight bookings to Haikou rose by two times and flight bookings departing Haikou increased by 40 percent. Hotel bookings for New Year's Day and the Spring Festival also rose.

Data from online travel platform Tongcheng Travel sent to the Global Times on Tuesday showed that flight bookings to Haikou on Monday increased by 63 percent on a weekly basis and flights to Sanya increased by 55 percent. In addition, hotel bookings in Hainan went up 21 percent from the week earlier.

Universal Beijing Resort announced that it will stop checking visitors' negative nucleic acid testing results when entering the resort or the Universal CityWalk, starting from Wednesday, but visitors at dine-in restaurants or theaters still need to offer the negative results.

Other provinces also released optimized virus prevention and control measures. Analysts said that the guidelines are aimed at minimizing the impact of the epidemic on the tourism sector while keeping people safe.

As a result, cross-provincial travel orders on Monday increased by 103 percent from a week earlier. Popular destinations are Sanya city in Hainan, Xiamen in East China's Fujian Province, Lijiang in Southwest China's Yunnan Province and Beihai in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to statistics sent from travel platform Spring Tour to the Global Times on Tuesday.

Inbound and outbound ticket bookings on Sunday for Jinan in East China's Shandong Province doubled from a week earlier, while train ticket bookings tripled, according to Qunar.

The optimized epidemic prevention and control measures taken by all regions are a good signal and will help mitigate the impact of the epidemic on tourism, Jiang Yiyi, deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism under the Beijing Sport University, told the Global Times.

"The number of cities with improved measures has increased, but the current epidemic prevention and control situation is still complex, and the domestic tourism recovery still faces challenges. It cannot be said that tourism will fully recover after these measures are taken. But we are still confident about the growth of tourism," said Jiang.

A Beijing resident surnamed Chen told the Global Times that she is still on the fence about inter-provincial travel due to sporadic virus outbreaks, but could consider a weekend trip to Beijing's outskirts.

Data from online leisure travel site Tuniu showed that more than 80 percent of its users are choosing short-distance travel, especially in East China's Zhejiang, South China's Guangdong, Shanghai and Beijing.

Once the services sector can achieve a comprehensive and orderly return to normal, China's economy is expected to see a strong rebound, Chen Jia, an independent research fellow, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"The services sector generally recovers more slowly than manufacturing. But the services PMI is expected to return to above 50 by the end of the year, which means expansion," said Chen.

Chen noted that China is expected to use targeted measures to propel the recovery of the consumer market before the Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, which falls on January 22, 2023.