Home China Travel and consumption surpass 2019 levels on Lunar New Year in China

Travel and consumption surpass 2019 levels on Lunar New Year in China

China recorded 474 million trips and tourism spending of 632.7 billion yuan (81.6 billion euros) during the Lunar New Year holidays, above 2019 levels.

The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism said, on Sunday, that trips taken during the so-called ‘golden week’ of eight days, ending on Saturday, rose 34.3 percent year-on-year and 19 percent compared to 2019.

This was the first time since the end of the zero covid policy in December 2022, and then almost three years of strict restrictions, that travel in China during the Lunar New Year exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

Spending on tourism increased by 47.3 percent year-on-year and 7.7 percent compared to the last year before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, said the Ministry.

Among the most popular destinations were Yunnan province and the southern island of Hainan, or the northeastern city of Harbin, where bookings increased by 40 percent thanks to the popular ice sculpture festival.

“The tourism market is vibrant and consumption during holidays has increased. Driven by favorable policies, such as mutual visa exemption or the resumption of air routes, tourism (…) also accelerated recovery”, he indicated.

The Ministry added that Chinese people took around 3.6 million trips abroad during the holidays, while mainland China received around 3.23 million visitors. However, according to financial portal Yicai, international flights only recovered 69 percent of their pre-pandemic level during the holidays.

On the other hand, travel agency Trip.com highlighted that the main foreign destinations, which include Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, recorded growth of more than 30 percent in bookings made by Chinese.

The Lunar New Year period, the largest mass movement in the world, is the main traditional festival for Chinese families and takes place in January or February, depending on the lunar calendar. This year, the first day of the year was celebrated on February 10th.

After a 2022 Lunar New Year marked by a huge wave of Covid-19, there was “considerable pent-up demand” in terms of consumption, said Ting Lu, an analyst at Nomura bank.

Furthermore, holidays lasted eight days this year, compared to seven in 2019, which favors the comparison. This “contributed to more travel”, highlighted investment bank Goldman Sachs.

More than a million Chinese visited Macau during the week of the Lunar New Year, between February 10 and Saturday, according to data published by the territory’s Directorate of Tourism Services (DST).

The recovery in consumption and tourism comes at a time when the world’s second largest economy has been penalized by an unprecedented real estate crisis and high unemployment among young people.

*With Lusa

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