Tourism boom, box office raise expectations for Qingming Festival
Young people main force of resurging travel market
Published: Apr 01, 2024 10:15 PM
Photo: The 10th cherry blossom festival kicked off in Hebei, Central China's Henan Province, on Monday.

The 10th annual cherry blossom festival kicked off in Hebei, Central China's Henan Province, on Monday. Photo: Courtsy of the publicity department of Hebi's Qibin District

Following the Spring Festival, the ­Qingming Festival is the next big holiday season of the year. Lasting from Thursday to Saturday, the three-day holiday holds great potential, with young people in China making plans for traveling, matchmaking events, spicy food, flower viewing and blockbuster films. 

As of Friday, the number of flight and hotel bookings for the Qingming Festival holiday has increased by 80 percent compared to the previous week. However, due to the short holiday duration, tourists are mainly opting for short-distance trips, flocking to nearby destinations to enjoy the spring scenery and appreciate the flowers in full bloom, the news website of the National Business Daily reported.

Meanwhile, the phenomenon of tourism driven by local cuisine and traditional culture remains unabated.

Since malatang, a type of spicy dish, went viral on the internet in mid-March, Tianshui, a city in Northwest China's Gansu Province, has witnessed a significant surge in tourism. According to booking platform Tujia, the volume of homestay bookings in Tianshui during the Qingming Festival on the platform has increased by more than 50 times year-on-year, with tourists born in the 1990s and 2000s the main force. 

Besides Tianshui, a tourist spot in Kaifeng in Central China's Henan Province has risen to sudden fame because of a matchmaking show. 

Located in Wansui Mountain, the tourist spot features a wuxia- (lit: martial arts and chivalry) themed city. Matchmaker Auntie Wang, dressed in the ancient clothing of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), hosts the show and invites visitors to join her on stage for matchmaking. After the show went viral on social media, many young men and women have traveled to Kaifeng to find love. 

According to Tongcheng Travel, as of Tuesday, the tourism search popularity of Wansui Mountain has increased by more than 700 percent in the past week, and ticket booking has increased by more than 200 percent month-on-month. The search popularity of Kaifeng and hotel bookings have both increased compared with the same period in 2023. 

Tongcheng Travel told domestic media that the show by "Matchmaker Auntie Wang" is a new type of cultural experience. The emergence of these activities helps enhance the tourism appeal of both tourist spots and the cities in which they are located.

Amid the strong recovery of China's domestic tourism market, college students largely accounted for the sector's resurgence. They humorously refer to their travel style as "special forces-style tourism," reflecting the current trend among college students or young people in general to explore as many as attractions as possible and indulge in diverse cuisines while minimizing both time and expenses. 

"Special forces-style tourism" was selected as one of the Top 10 Chinese buzzwords of 2023 by the linguistics journal Yaowen Jiaozi.

For the Qingming Festival holiday, these special forces, once again, show high enthusiasm for traveling. Data from Chinese online travel platform Qunar reveals that during the Qingming Festival holiday, travelers aged 18 to 23 years account for over 15 percent of the total users on the platform, making them the most active travel group. Additionally, they are seeking niche destinations, such as Tumen city in Northeast China's Jilin Province and Luoping county in Southwest China's Yunnan Province.

At the same time, enjoying the spring scenery and appreciating flowers in full bloom have become the choices for many to spend the short holiday. 

For example, in Hebi, a city in Central China's Henan Province boasting over 300,000 cherry blossom trees, the 10th annual cherry blossom festival kicked off on Monday, with tens of thousands of cherry blossoms welcoming enthusiasts from around the world.

Featuring over 30 cherry blossom-themed cultural and tourism events, the festival coincides with the Qingming Festival holiday and weekend. Visitors can indulge in a variety of activities including cherry blossom art galleries, violin solos, cultural and creative markets, fashion shows showcasing traditional Chinese attire and dazzling light shows.

The first cherry blossom festival in 2015 welcomed about 100,000 visitors to the city. A combination of cultural activities and appreciating cherry blossoms is expected to attract more visitors in 2024.

Heading to the cinema during the holidays has become a "new folk custom" in recent years, as more and more people are deciding to go out and catch a movie with family and friends. 

The Qingming Festival holiday has also become a window to observe the film market for the first half of the year. A total of seven domestic and foreign films are set for release. This year's Qingming Festival box office features a diverse range of new films with a wide selection of genres. 

Data analyst Chen Jin from the film platform Beacon noted that in addition to Hollywood blockbusters, Japanese and Indian films have performed well during the Qingming holiday in the past. 

The Qingming Festival holiday box office is generally a period with a richer variety of films and is more popular among young people. Its great potential should not be underestimated.