May Day holidays to see rising travel demand following resumption of outbound group tours
Published: Mar 24, 2023 11:35 PM
Travellers from a Xiamen Airlines flight arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on January 9, 2023, as China removed Covid-19 travel restrictions. Photo: VCG

Travellers from a Xiamen Airlines flight arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on January 9, 2023. Photo: VCG

The first round of travel fever is expected to hit the May Day holidays, after China changed its COVID response in light of the evolving situation, with outbound bookings growing more than tenfold, per data from several travel platforms.

Overall domestic travel bookings during the May Day holidays this year have increased by 150% year-on-year, and the number of outbound travel bookings has increased by nearly 17 times year-on-year, data from sent to the Global Times on Friday showed.

Data from Fliggy showed that the number of hotel reservations at home and abroad during the May Day holidays far exceeds that from the same period before the epidemic, and the number of domestic hotel pre-sale packages booked during the May Day holidays has also increased by more than 3.5 times compared to the same period last year.

Another domestic travel platform, Mafengwo, told the Global Times that searches for "May Day outbound travel" have risen, and Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Spain are currently the most popular destinations, with searches rocketing by more than 100 percent in the past week.

China has resumed outbound group tours for Chinese citizens to another 40 countries including Nepal, Vietnam and Iran starting from March 15. It is the second batch of destinations in China's pilot program for outbound group tours after the country resumed cross-border group tours to the first batch of 20 countries and regions on February 6. It is widely believed that the five-day May Day holidays will see an explosion in overseas travel, propelling a further recovery of consumption.

"Several outbound group tours starting from the end of the April to countries such as Argentina, New Zealand and Iran have been booked out. This popularity is quite beyond what we expected," Guan Jian, spokesperson from the GZL International Travel Service, told the Global Times on Friday.

Unlike previous travel packages, which were mostly purchased by the elderly, we can see there are more young people showing up in the coming tours, Guan added. "Given this performance, the travel fever will continue and not be dampened."

Chinese airlines are also busy resuming overseas flights as the new flight season gets set to start on Sunday, which will also boost the travel market.

China Southern Airlines said on Wednesday that it will operate 74 international and regional flight routes, with a total of 732 flights per week, most of which will fly to Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. For example, it will have a daily flight from Guangzhou to Sydney/Melbourne/Auckland, and plans to resume tourist routes from Guangzhou to cities such as Bali and Chiang Mai from the end of April.

Juneyao Airlines said it will resume one scheduled passenger flight to Japan every day starting from Sunday going to Osaka and Tokyo. It will also resume three weekly flights from Shanghai Pudong to Haneda in Tokyo from April 9.

However, there is some turbulence regarding travel to Thailand following media reports of cases of missing persons in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, while telecom fraud and smuggling have also raised concerns on Chinese social media.

Thailand attaches great importance to the safety of Chinese tourists and will take appropriate measures to ensure the security of those visiting the country, the Thai Embassy in China said in a statement on Thursday, aiming to clarify rumors and reassure tourists of their safety in the country.