China embraces new travel options, rise in outbound tourism ahead of Dragon Boat Festival
Published: Jun 03, 2024 02:37 PM
A little girl in traditional costume poses for pictures among blossoms in Zhengding County of Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, April 17, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

A little girl in traditional costume poses for pictures among blossoms in Zhengding County of Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, April 17, 2024.(Photo: Xinhua)

As the traditional Dragon Boat Festival draws near, new options represented by "new Chinese-style travel" and outbound tourism are gaining popularity, driving new consumption demand in both the Chinese and global tourism markets.

Data from Chunqiu Travel Agency revealed that the number of people planning to travel during the 3-day Dragon Boat Festival holidays starting from June 8 may exceed last year's total. The number of domestic trips is expected to nearly double.

The global business industry, represented by such groups as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), is optimistic about the global tourism industry's post-pandemic rebound, indicating there is a significant contribution from the resurgence of Chinese outbound travel.

According to a study by the WTTC and Oxford Economics, Chinese tourists embarking on adventures closer to home are forecast to pump a record 6.79 trillion yuan ($938 billion) into the country's tourism economy in 2024, topping pre-pandemic levels for the first time.

"Chinese visitors are starting to travel again and this is only going to continue to grow. The tourism sector has shown signs of resilience and a strong recovery," said Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC, as reported by the Japan Times on Monday.

In the domestic tourism market, a new type of travel, which is called "new Chinese-style travel," has sparked strong interest, especially among younger generations, reflecting China's continued economic recovery.

"New Chinese-style travel" refers to activities such as visiting history museums, watching traditional Dragon Boat races, experiencing intangible cultural heritage, discovering historical and cultural scenic spots, and dressing in traditional Chinese attire such as hanfu and ethnic costumes.

Many cities offering intangible cultural heritage experiences are seeing huge flows of tourists. For example, traditional opera culture in Beijing and East China's Suzhou, tea-picking culture in Southeast China's Fujian Province, and batik culture in both Central China's Hunan and Southwest China's Yunnan provinces have gained popularity, according to a report Tongcheng Travel sent to the Global Times on Monday.

Traditional culture is drawing increasing attention among the public, leading to a rise in the popularity of "new Chinese-style travel." Industry experts said that the introduction of innovative cultural tourism products has breathed new life into traditional festivals, encouraging people to appreciate their cultural heritage.

This new type of travel allows tourists to immerse themselves in unique experiences by delving into the most vibrant aspects of a city, including culture, art, cuisine and local lifestyles, Wang Peng, an associate research fellow from the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

"For many young travelers in the country, the trend reflects a manifestation of cultural self-esteem. As customers' sense of identification with and pride in traditional Chinese culture continues to strengthen, culture and travel will continuously empower new forms of consumption," Wang said.

Outbound tourism has reemerged as a mainstream option for Chinese tourists. The recovery in overseas travel has been attributed to several factors, including visa-free policies for Chinese tourists in some popular destinations, Wang said.

So far, China had concluded mutual visa exemption agreements covering different passports with more than 150 countries, and achieved full visa exemption with 25 countries, including Thailand, Singapore, the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As of Sunday, the number of domestic tourists planning to visit the Maldives during the Dragon Boat Festival holidays was up by 20 percent year-on-year, according to

"The Chinese market will become one of our most important markets. We greatly value the experience of Chinese visitors," Zihuny Rasheed, deputy managing director of Maldives Marketing and PR Corp, was quoted as saying during an interview with

With their strong spending power, Chinese outbound tourists will significantly boost the global tourism market. According to a forecast by the China Tourism Academy, the number of outbound trips by Chinese tourists will reach 130 million in 2024.