Spring Festival gives rise to diverse careers in China
Published: Feb 19, 2024 10:19 PM
Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

As China witnessed a surge in travel during the eight-day Spring Festival holidays, the massive domestic migration not only fueled the tourism market, but also provided opportunities for Chinese youths to explore new career avenues.   

These novel careers became a hot topic on Chinese social media platforms when a recent report from Chongqing Daily indicated that a part-time "pet sitter," a person who provides caring services for cats or dogs whose owners were away during the Spring Festival period, earned a stunning 10,000 yuan ($1,386) during the eight-day holidays. 

With the rise of China's pet market, sparked by young people in first-tier cities tending to have pets as companions to relieve loneliness, similar pet caring jobs have continued to spring up during the country's big holidays in the last few years.

Take 2021 data on China's Pet Industry released by The Paper for example. The domestic pet market in 2021 had reached a 270.6 billion yuan, showcasing a promising future for industry insiders.

In November, a profession called "animal communicators," or pet psychiatrist, also gained popularity on Chinese social media platforms, yielding more than 60,000 related posts on apps such as Xiaohongshu.

No matter if it's part-time pet sitters or professional animal communicators, the fact that more young Chinese are turning to these "rather niche" paths to make money demonstrates a trend toward more diversity in career choices.

This career diversity is being magnified by the Spring Festival. As some 9 billion trips were expected to be made during the holidays, other markets also attracted the attention of many young people searching for money-making opportunities.

As ancient capital cities filled up with tourists in traditional clothing, make-up artists became a new profession led by young people that benefited a great deal from the holidays. 

They have great passion for wearing hanfu, or other traditional Chinese clothing such as mamianqun (horse-faced dress), and wandering around ancient capital cities like Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

On China's online sales platform Taobao, a one-package service providing a tourist with traditional Chinese clothing, make-up services and photo taking costs an average of 280 yuan at the Xi'an Grand Tang Mall, a famed pedestrian mall modeled on a Tang Dynasty (618-907) palace.

As one of the top 10 business districts in the country in terms of customer traffic during the Spring Festival, the mall offered many business opportunities to make-up artists.

According to a report by China Central Television on Thursday, students at a make-up vocational school in Xi'an struck some business deals with tourists looking to enjoy immersive experiences dressing up in ancient clothing. A single artist could make 500-1000 yuan during the peak period of the festival.

In addition, as giving money-filled ornate red envelopes to friends and relatives is a tradition during the festival, some people even developed part-time jobs making unique "red envelope" covers using artificial intelligence. 

For many business insiders, the shift in travel trends during the Spring Festival holidays was another contributor to the rise of these careers.

While the Spring Festival focuses on family reunions and visiting relatives, many young people, however, decided to head to places afar in addition to going home. Such a new "reunion + tourism" consumption mode, which directly boosted the development of novel careers.

According to data published by Chinese travel ticketing platform, more than 20 percent of users traveled at least twice during the Spring Festival period. Part of the demand for these multiple trips is due to people's desire to visit relatives and at the same time go on a short-distance trip.

The diversity of young people's careers is of course not limited to the Spring Festival, as their part-time craze has been on the rise for multiple reasons in recent years.

Based on a multiple industry trend report published in March 2023, novel jobs such as onsite chef services and one-on-one hospital companion care services are among the most popular novel jobs for young Chinese.

For experts, this is also a reflection of the industrial structure and even the economic development of society, as more people are adjusting their plans and looking for opportunities according to industry changes.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.