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As we mentioned in last Tuesdays post, from Saturday April 28th to last Wednesday May 3rd was China’s first May or Labour Day holiday since Covid restrictions in 2020. Like most of China’s economy, the travel industry and those associated with tourism took a heavy financial hit as people either chose to stay home, or were restricted from travelling.
As China’s weather patterns have changed and summer has become hotter and hotter, the Spring and Autumn holidays in China have become synonymous with peak travel and peak income. Until of course, 2020. So there was huge interest in watching this years first May holiday in 3 years.
Would travel bounce back? Would Chinese open their wallets? Would the last quarters industrial economic figure be boosted by a huge rise in domestic consumption. The answers to these and many questions more, hinged on the 2023 May Day holiday.
Early pre booking figures suggested that it might. In fact, it might even beat pre Covid records. Did it?
Lets dig in.
China Tourists Swamp Attractions as Travel Explodes After Covid
The above dramatic headline from Bloomberg is indicative of many we saw.
Millions of Chinese travellers thronged major cities and tourist hotspots across the nation over the Labour Day break, the first normal holiday period for many after three years of pandemic restrictions and Covid waves.
More than 159 million trips were made by road, rail, air and waterways in the first three days of the five-day holiday which ends Wednesday, up 162% from the same period last year.
The Edge Markets; a Malaysia and Singapore business company, also ran with a Bloomberg story:
Chinese tourists overwhelm attractions as travel explodes after Covid
Caixin Global had a similar story line with its image gallery:
Holiday Travel Roars Back
Popular destinations in China received a surge of visitors during the first May Day holiday since 2019. On Saturday, travellers in China made a record-breaking 19.66 million train trips across the country. Over 240 million trips are expected to be made during the five days people have off this year, a figure that would surpass the pre-pandemic level in 2019, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday, citing the China Tourism Academy.
Less than 10% International Travel
One interesting shift was the small numbers of Chinese who opted to travel out of China this year. As we have noted in other articles, the widely held notion in the west that Chinese are blissfully unaware of global happenings, locked away in a sterile, censored environment is a a long stretch from reality.
It is clearly obvious that Chinese put China front and centre and spent their money locally, shunning fair weather friends who they had financially supported in pre pandemic times.
This ironic piece from CNBC 2 weeks before the holiday accurately predicted the drought many European and US cites would feel.
Charity begins at home seems to be the thinking.
Chinese tourists are travelling again — but not the way they used to.
Chinese tourists are raring to travel again.
But this time, the usual suspects — Venice, Paris and Madrid, for example — aren’t their top picks.
As China’s reopening gains momentum after three years of Covid-19 restrictions, the country’s travel-hungry citizens are emerging much changed, according to the Chinese Outbound Tourism Research Institute, an independent consulting company based in Germany.
“The Chinese tourists we will welcome this year and in the coming years are very different from those who came before,”Wolfgang Georg Arlt, founder and chief executive of COTRI,
CBS took a similar line:
China public holidays bring a post-COVID travel boom, and a boost for its shaky economic recovery
Given the rather impressive first quarter economic figures, we would take issue with the “shaky recovery” quote as many of the the worlds major economies failed to even reach much more than 1% growth. However, the article itself is reasonably fair comment.
The China Tourism Academy predicted that more than 240 million passenger trips would be made during the five-day period this year, beating even pre-pandemic figures.
On the first day, travel surged 151.8% compared to the same day last year, with tickets to popular sites including the Badaling section of the Great Wall, near the Chinese capital, and Shanghai Disney all sold out. Both of Beijing’s airports saw record numbers on Saturday. Please press in image to read more from CBS.
China daily took a more granular approach – and surprisingly for them, less dramatic -with 3 separate pieces
Holiday trips ride high on cultural quests
The scores of travellers estimated to make 240 million trips around the country during the five-day May Day holiday from April 29, a growth of around 104 percent compared with the same period in 2019, according to the China Tourism Academy.China Daily
The following two links lead to a series of photos from CeciliaQ under the heading: Tourism booms in China. As always, please press in the below images to see more photos.
Let’s take a look at Alibaba’s approach.
May Day coincides, more or less, with their annual Taobao Maker Festival. In previous years, Alibaba have focused everything in its home city; Hangzou. This year, partly perhaps in anticipation of huge crowds, and partly as a social responsibility task, they relocated some of its attractions to other cities.
This short video gives a brief taste of they key city events.
Now, if you’re from a certain culture, this might be your idea of a barbeque
Well, it might be a BBQ or barbie, but mate!
Hang on, what’s this got to do with China’s May Day travel?
Patience young grasshopper, all will be revealed.
You see, there’s a city in Shandong province, Zibo (sounds like gas lighter yeah?) which has become, well, famous in China for its barbeques. Zibo is a small city, yet last March around 5 million people descended on it to experience it’s barbeque culture. Putting that into perspective, it’s about 1 mill more than the town’s total permanent population – as @2023.
So naturally, it became a must see, do and eat location during the Chinese 2023 May Holiday. It’s a barbeque Jim, but not as we know it. They do say a picture’s worth a thousand words and as we are already over that threshold, lets roll with our final image gallery for today. Courtesy of Caixin Global.
City’s Barbeque Culture Catches Fire
Zibo, an industrial city in East China’s Shandong province, has emerged as a hot tourist destination after videos showcasing its affordable local barbecue joints spread on social media.
So, that’s a wrap, if you have a business in China and would like to talk about improving your Chinese customers user experience drop Everlyne or Fan a line – they are happy to chat.
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