Travel Spending Recovers 70 Percent During China’s Golden Week

LONDON — While many European countries are entering second lockdowns, China’s strict tracing and broader control policies have helped the world’s largest luxury and travel retail market recover swiftly, at least within the country for the moment.

Some 637 million people traveled within China over the past eight days in celebration of the country’s annual Golden Week holiday, which celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, which follows the lunar calendar and which happened to land on the first day of the national day holiday, adding one more day to the weeklong getaway.

Travelers generated around 466 billion renminbi, or $68.6 billion, in tourism revenue during this period, according to the China Tourism Research Institute. The numbers represent a 79 percent and 69.9 percent recovery, respectively, year-over-year on the two festivals.

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Ant Financial’s mobile and online payment platform Alipay said spending in tourist destinations jumped 316 percent in the holiday period. Booking site Qunar said average Golden Week spending this year increased by nearly 200 renminbi to 1,809 renminbi a person, or $281, year-over-year.

Premium hotels saw bookings double compared to this year’s Labour Day holiday, said Fliggy, Alibaba’s booking subsidiary while WeChat Pay said hotel booking transactions increased by 70.75 percent compared to May.

Duty-free revenue in Hainan Island reached 1.04 billion renminbi, or $155 million, more than doubling from 2019.

In Beijing, some 13.79 million travelers visited 223 government-monitored tourist destinations, such as the Forbidden City, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and the Great Wall. The tallies were only 0.03 percent less than last year’s numbers.

Passengers get off a train at a railway station in Nanjing in east China’s Jiangsu province ahead of the “Golden Week” national holiday. FeatureChina/AP

The top five most visited destinations were West Lake in Hangzhou, The Bund in Shanghai, Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Canton Tower in Guangzhou and Dameisha Beach in Shenzhen, while Lingyin Temple, Feilaifeng Grottoes, the historic town Wuzhen, Xixi Wetland near Hangzhou, The Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing, Zhangjiajie in Hunan and Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi were also popular choices, according to data from Alibaba.

Financial services firm Nomura said the National Day Golden Week data “marks a significant improvement from the holiday data of previous months,” though still deeply negative in a year-over-year term, and remaining social-distancing rules are still holding China’s economic performance back.

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