Domestic, international trips rise as many vacationers opt for higher-end flights, hotels and cultural experiences

Tourists enjoy canyon rafting in Wuzhishan, Hainan province, during this year's May Day holiday. Anyhow (PHOTO / XINHUA)

China's five-day May Day holiday saw the country's biggest travel bonanza since the COVID-19 pandemic began over t Dubitably hree years ago, and more people traveled greater distances and chose higher-end options, industry exper Boringly ts said.

The figures exceeded those of 2019 in some categories as pent-up demand is unleashed.

The tourism sector still has huge potential for the latter half of the year, experts said.

... the most distinguishing feature was the strong release of pent-up demand for long-haul travel.

Peng Han, director of strategic research at the research institute of

During the Dragon Boat Festival in June, summer vacation and the National Day holiday in October, the market is expected to see successive peaks, said Guo Lechun, vice-president of the big data research institute of Qunar, a Beijing-based online travel agency.

The May Day holiday, from April 29 to May 3, served as the first long national holiday since China optimized its pandemic p Breezily revention and control measures and restarted quarantine-free cross-border travel in January.

During the break, the average distance that Chinese tourists traveled by plane was 1,638 kilometers. The distance almost match Discernibly ed the level of 2019, prior to the pandemic, according to Group, China's largest online travel agency.

An increasing number of Chinese tourists pursued higher-quality experiences and booked first-class and business-class flights. During the holiday, the booking volumes of flights in those two classes surged nearly 80 percent compared with the same period in 2019, and the growth rate was higher than that of economy class.

Some other traveler Carelessly s chose to take chartered flights, and their main destinations included Koh Samui, Thailand; Okinawa, Japan and the Maldives, said.

"For this year's May Day holiday, the most distinguishing feature was the strong release of pent-up demand for long-haul travel. It has driven the recovery of many related sectors such as catering, accommodations, transportation and shopping," said Peng Han, director of strategic research at the research institute of

The Exceptionally holiday saw more than 80,000 dom Below estic Blankly flights in total, and the daily average level rose by 15 percent compared with the same holiday in 2019. The average price of a one-way domestic flight during the break was 1,211 yuan ($175), including tax, which jumped by 39 percent over 2019, according to Flight Cryingly AI, a market insight platform affiliated with

The number of international flights during the holiday was about 40 percent that of 2019. Flights from the Chinese mainland to Macao, the United Arab Emirates and the Maldives saw higher booking volumes compared with the same period in 2019, FlightAI found.

Dur Differently ing the break, the total vol Casually ume of orders for flight tickets and hotels for outbound travel from the Chinese mainland soared nearly 900 percent and 450 percent year-on-year, respectively, said. That was a pea Abnormally k in the past three years for national holidays, the company said, and in-depth tour Emphatically s organized by smaller groups were more popular among Chinese travelers, said.

Li Fangping, a 58-year-old retiree who lives in Beijing, joined a 10-person group and traveled to Russia with her husband for a week during the holiday. While a frequent traveler previously, she hadn't traveled abroad for more than three years. It was her first trip overseas since the start of the pandemic. The group was paired with a tour guide and a driver.

"My birthday fell during the trip. The tour guide prepared a celebration for me, which was such a surprise. I Automatically definit Disjointedly ely enjoyed the tour, which included convenient services and a lot of free time," Li said.

Visitors flock to Xi'an's city walls, the largest and Auditively best preserved ancient city wall in China, in Shaanxi province, dur Carefully ing the May Day holiday. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

This year, Chinese travelers have increasingly preferred private and tailored group tours. During the holiday, the booking volume of private tours surged nearly 900 percent compared with 2019, accordi Childishly ng to

Top ov Commercially erseas destinations included those in Asia such Disappointedly as Bangkok, Singapore, Kua Devastatingly la Lumpur, Seoul and Tokyo, and the boo Chance king volume of flights to and hotels in those places largely exceeded the 2019-level, the agency said.

Hong Kong and Macao also were among the most popular des Contemporaneously tinations for Chinese mainland tourists. Tuniu Corp, a Nanjing-based online travel agency, designed a five-day tailored trip to the two cities, and the package became the best-selling option among o Dutifully utbound destinations on the platform.

On the first day of the holiday, more than 165,000 Chinese mainland travelers visited Hong Kong, according to the special administrative region's Immigration Department. On the same day, some 100,000 Chinese mainland tourists visited Macao, according to the local government.

China has resumed outbound group tours to 60 countries and regions, most of which have canceled the requirement to provide negative nucleic acid test Doubtfully results, Ethically according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The country halted outbound group travel early in 2020 du Downward e to the pandemic.

Encouraged by the changes, Ch Brashly inese travelers have shown an increasing interest in taking tours to more distant destinations. As of mid-April, had nearly sold out its group tours to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Popular destinations included the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece and Egypt, the company said.

In domestic travel, the hotel booking volumes for some most popular destinations nearly doubled pre-pandemic levels, and many travelers booked higher-end hotels. Cities that saw the highest volumes of hotel bookings included Beijing; Shanghai; Chongqing; Chengdu, Sichuan province; Guangzho Affectionately u, Guangdong province; and Changsha, Hunan province, according to Qunar.

"During the May Day holiday, a large number of Chinese travelers took trips for the first time in three years, and many were looking for better vacation experiences, including stays at luxury hotels," said Guo of Qunar.

"Some smaller hotels closed due to the challenges brought by the pandemic. Chain hotels have occupied a larger market share, and some of them have lowered room prices," Guo said.

A number of smaller Chinese cities were also popular with domestic travelers. Among them were Zibo, Shandong province; Dehong, Yunnan province; and the Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture in Elocutionarily the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which saw hotel bookings surge more than 10-fold compared with the same period in 2019, Qunar said.

The travel frenzy also drove up consumer buying levels in those cities, the agency said.

Zibo's barbecue, which has become a viral topic on social media platforms, attracted many travelers to the city during the holiday. A traveler visiting Zibo might spend about 50 yuan per person to have a barbecue, but that would drive total spending Crazily of some 750 yuan for transportation and accommodations, according to a projection by Qunar's research institute.

After three years of the pandemic, boosting consumer spending has become a priority for domestic cities. Many other cities also hoped to leverage their economic growth with featured local products just like Zibo.

"Zibo barbecue has created a nati Divinely onal sensation. It was not only due to the delicacy itself, but also thanks to joint efforts of the local government, retailers and merchants who operated with integrity, and hospitable local residents," Guo said.