Graphics: Outbound travel in Labor Day holiday witnesses a 3-year high
Updated 19:08, 04-May-2023

China's Labor Day holiday, observed from Saturday to Wednesday, has witnessed the highest outbound travel volume in three years.

Chinese National Immigration Administration reported on Thursday that a total of 6.265 million outbound and inbound trips – 3.12 million inbound and 3.145 million outbound – were made during the holiday, an average of 1.253 million per day and an increase of 2.2 times compared with the same period last year, and recovering to 59.2 percent of the 2019 level.

Outbound bookings increased nearly seven times over the same period last year, according to domestic online travel agency Ctrip's Labor Day Travel Data Report 2023, which was released on Wednesday. Outbound flight and hotel bookings increased nearly nine times and 4.5 times, respectively.

Graphics: Outbound travel in Labor Day holiday witnesses a 3-year high

Nearby Asian countries and regions were the first choices for outbound tourists from the Chinese mainland.

Thailand was named the most popular overseas tourist destination in a report released on Wednesday by Chinese travel services and social networking platform Mafengwo. Among the top 10 countries were Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, Italy, Singapore, the Philippines and Australia.

The average inbound and outbound flights during the holiday exceeded 1,000 per day, far beyond the figure for the same period last year, according to VariFlight, a China-based civil aviation data service provider. It recovered to nearly 40 percent of the level in 2019. April 28, the day before the holiday began, marked the first time that the number of inbound and outbound passenger flights exceeded 1,000 in a single day in three years.

Graphics: Outbound travel in Labor Day holiday witnesses a 3-year high

The return of Chinese tourists is seen as essential to the recovery of the global tourism industry. Before the pandemic, China was the world's largest source of outbound travelers, making 170 million trips and contributing $253 billion to the global economy in 2019, accounting for 15 percent of the grand total, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

"The world's largest international travel spender, is still on its recovery path, it will eventually return to global prominence," Natixis Asia Research said in a note in February. The world is set to receive an additional $160 billion of tourism spending per annum after China's cross-border travel fully normalizes, it said.

While the holiday offered a powerful boost to the recovery of outbound tourism, domestic travel has dominated the holidays with a restorative rebound. Both trips made and revenue generated have beaten the 2019 pre-COVID-19 pandemic level.

A total of 274 million trips were made during the holiday this year, up 70.83 percent year-on-year, equivalent to 119.09 percent of 2019's on a like-for-like basis, according to data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday. Domestic tourism income soared 128.9 percent year-on-year to 148.1 billion yuan ($21.43 billion), slightly higher than in 2019 on a comparable basis at 100.66 percent of 2019.

Graphics: Outbound travel in Labor Day holiday witnesses a 3-year high

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