Labor Day holiday spending boom assists economic revival
Tourists take photos of a giant panda at Beijing Zoo in Beijing, China, May 3, 2023. /CFP
Tourists take photos of a giant panda at Beijing Zoo in Beijing, China, May 3, 2023. /CFP

Tourists take photos of a giant panda at Beijing Zoo in Beijing, China, May 3, 2023. /CFP

The just-ended Labor Day holiday, a five-day break starting on Saturday, has injected new impetus into the rapid revival of the nation's economy with a strong recovery of the tourism and consumer market.

Cai Chuanlei, 34, who had not been to his hometown in nearly two years due to COVID-19, planned to take his wife and little boy to visit their relatives during the holiday. He bought tickets with a destination further than intended in order to get seats for his family because the tickets bound for his hometown were sold out as soon as they went on sale.

Cai is one of the enthusiastic travelers who made more than 274 million visits during the holiday, up 70.83 percent year-on-year, according to data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Wednesday. The figure is an increase of more than 19 percent for the same period in 2019.

The ministry also said those visits generated revenue of around 148 billion yuan (around $21.4 billion), up 128.9 percent year-on-year.

Besides the booming tourism sector, the catering and leisure business as well as box offices also saw remarkable growth.

According to data released by the Ministry of Commerce, key food chains saw revenues uptick by 57.9 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, China's box office revenue during the holiday exceeded 1.5 billion yuan as of Wednesday evening, ranking third in Labor Day box office receipts in Chinese film history.

Alipay, the country's biggest digital payment app, reported a two-fold increase in online holiday spending from a year earlier.

A view of a shopping mall in Shanghai, China, May 1, 2023. /CFP
A view of a shopping mall in Shanghai, China, May 1, 2023. /CFP

A view of a shopping mall in Shanghai, China, May 1, 2023. /CFP

While well-known tourist destinations are still among the most popular places, previously little-known destinations were star attractions during the holiday as many of them like east China's Yancheng City and southwest China's Zigong City saw their hotel bookings increase more than 10 times compared to that in 2019.

Among them, Zibo City in east China's Shandong Province, whose popularity boomed as its barbecue style went viral, saw its hotel bookings increase 20-fold year-on-year, according to the travel portal Qunar.

Liu Baocheng, dean of the Center for International Business Ethics at the University of International Business and Economics, believed the trend shows there's more diversification to be sought after by the Chinese tourists.

While acknowledging more destinations and more varieties are attractive points, Liu also noticed two factors behind the new trend: one is the crowd out effect and the other is the emancipation of travel consumption from more of the home bound people like Cai.

Multiple travel portals showed that family trips became the main force of travel spending during the holiday.

Data from Chinese travel service and social networking platform Mafengwo indicated the popularity of family trips increased by 869 percent in the past three weeks, while on the platform of online travel agency Tuniu, family trip orders took up 35 percent.


Data from online travel platform Ctrip showed that the overall order volume of outbound travel from the mainland during the five-day break increased by nearly 700 percent year-on-year; outbound ticket and hotel orders increased by nearly nine-fold and 450 percent respectively compared with the same period in 2022.

There is not only a robust revival for the outbound travel, but also in the meanwhile, we can see there is also large potential, said Liu.

Noting there are already people making big plans for their family members in the upcoming holidays like the National Day holiday in October, Liu added that particularly in the third quarter of the year, China is going to have a stronger economy and more confidence is going to be restored. "Therefore people are willing to travel farther and spend more."

Echoing Liu, Guo Lechun, vice president of the big data research institute under Qunar, said that the demand side of China's tourism industry still has huge potential to be released this year.

"With the arrival of the Dragon Boat Festival, summer holiday and National Day holiday, China's expected to continue to see a wave of travel boom," Guo said.

Read more:

China's Labor Day tourists poised to drive global economic growth

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