China golden week: domestic tourism revenue records 129.5% year-on-year rise
Updated 17:02, 07-Oct-2023

The Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays have seen a surge in travel activities by diverse factors such as family reunions, cultural events, and travel related to the Asian Games, which signals a robust recovery in the cultural and tourism markets. 

During the holiday period, domestic tourism revenue reached over 753 billion yuan ($103.14 billion), marking an increase of 129.5 percent compared to the previous year and a 1.5 percent rise from 2019 levels, as estimated by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Chinese citizens are making the most of this long holiday period. The number of domestic tourism trips reached 826 million, up 71.3 percent from a year ago and 4.1 percent higher than in 2019.

New tourism trends this year

China has experienced a consistent rebound in tourism demand in 2023. During the first half of the year, the total number of domestic tourist trips reached 2.38 billion, increasing 63.9 percent compared to the previous year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

This trend persists during the National Day holiday, where the tourism industry is currently witnessing a surge in activity. Notably, the long-term travel market is displaying remarkable growth.

Bookings for cross-provincial tours accounted for 73 percent of all travel reservations, a 10 percentage point increase compared to the same period in 2022, according to China's online travel agency Ctrip. Nearly 20 percent of travelers opted for stays lasting three days or more.

Xizang and other regions known for their appeal to long-term travel, including Qinghai, Ningxia, and Heilongjiang, have experienced a year-on-year surge in the popularity of tourism products, surpassing 300 percent, according to online travel agency Tongcheng-eLong.

"From a demand perspective, more people are now viewing travel as an important form of consumption," said Ming Qingzhong, professor at the Tourism and Culture Industry Research Institute at Yunnan University of Finance and Economics. "As consumer habits evolve, tourism has become a vital means for people to enhance their quality of life."

"The eight-day vacation period provides ample time for people to engage in more extended leisure trips, whereas on weekends and shorter holidays, time constraints often limit their travel options to nearby or short-duration excursions," Ming added.

The National Day holiday, known as "golden week" in China, typically spans seven days. But this year it lasts eight days due to its conjunction with the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival.

Visitors are seen at the Wangxian Valley Scenic Spot in Shangrao City, east China's Jiangxi Province, September 29, 2023. /Xinhua
Visitors are seen at the Wangxian Valley Scenic Spot in Shangrao City, east China's Jiangxi Province, September 29, 2023. /Xinhua

Visitors are seen at the Wangxian Valley Scenic Spot in Shangrao City, east China's Jiangxi Province, September 29, 2023. /Xinhua

Meanwhile, a trend known as "reverse tourism," where travelers intentionally seek out less-visited or offbeat destinations, is gaining momentum this year.

The trend is favored by young people who prefer choosing lesser-known cities, staying in hotels, sometimes ordering takeout, and planning their trips at a leisurely pace for a comfortable experience.

"Avoiding crowded hotspots has become a growing preference among people who are choosing to explore second– and third–tier cities or third– and fourth–tier cities," said Dai Bin, president of China Tourism Academy.

"While the traditionally popular cities continue to attract visitors, lesser-known destinations are also starting to gain attention and popularity."

Also, "traveling with performances" is emerging as another fresh aspect of travel experience. Since the start of this year, the performance industry has witnessed substantial growth, with consumers' interest in attending shows on the rise. 

Concerts and music festivals have become key factors in drawing travelers and stimulating higher tourism spending. During this summer season, urban tourist destinations with rich cultural heritage and convenient amenities have been especially preferred by travelers.

The performance economy represents a unique way of blending cultural and tourism consumption, said Lu Mengxi, head of the Meituan Cultural and Tourism Research Institute.

The ongoing activity in the performance market is expected to attract more tourists, leading to growth in the region's accommodation, transportation and dining sectors, according to Lu, adding that it will in turn drive business expansion.

People visit an exhibition at Tianjin Art Museum in Tianjin, north China, October 2, 2023. /Xinhua
People visit an exhibition at Tianjin Art Museum in Tianjin, north China, October 2, 2023. /Xinhua

People visit an exhibition at Tianjin Art Museum in Tianjin, north China, October 2, 2023. /Xinhua

According to the "2023 Global Consumer Insights Survey" conducted by PwC in September, around 62 percent of Chinese consumers are expected to increase their travel spending in the latter half of 2023, surpassing the global average.

"With a population exceeding 1.4 billion, including a middle-income group of over 400 million, the country's consumption potential is evident, and tourism expenditure is an important component of this," Ming told CGTN.

The surge in tourists during the holidays indicates a shift in China's tourism industry towards a new normal, which comes as the pent-up demand for tourism consumption grows alongside the economic recovery following the pandemic, he said.

Ming also pointed out that as the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday is the last extended vacation period in 2023, the tourism sector's recovery and growth in the second half of the year could be somewhat constrained.

Measures stimulate vitality

In recent years, there have been concerted efforts to expand the range of vacation choices available to travelers. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been enhancing the accessibility of top-notch tourism offerings, improving tourism infrastructure, and delivering better vacation services.

To cater to the diverse travel preferences of the public during the National Day holiday, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has introduced a range of top-tier travel routes to enhance the variety of tourism offerings and services. Specifically, the ministry has launched 149 national rural tourism quality routes with the autumn harvest theme.

In addition to introducing special activities and routes, various regions are also issuing cultural tourism consumption coupons to stimulate tourism spending.

For instance, Guangzhou unveiled a new round of cultural tourism consumption coupons with a total amount of over 10 million yuan, with their validity spanning the entire holiday period.

Meanwhile, Wuhan distributed 30 million yuan in cultural tourism consumption coupons, allowing both residents and tourists to avail a 30-percent discount on government-backed subsidies when patronizing over 450 cultural and tourism businesses in the city.


Reporter: Zhao Chenchen

Cover Image Designer: Li Jingjie

Videographer: Yang Ze

Post Production: Yang Yiren 

Writer: Zhong Xia

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