China domestic tourism picks up over Lunar New Year as COVID curbs end

FILE PHOTO: First batch of Chinese tourists arrived at Ngurah Rai International Airport following the Chinese Government’s resumption of travel for citizens in Bali, Indonesia, January 22, 2023 Antara Foto/Fikri Yusuf/via REUTERS


BEIJING (Reuters) – Almost a quarter more domestic Chinese tourism trips have been made during this year’s Lunar New Year holiday, while cross-border travel more than doubled in the first six days of the week-long break following the end of strict COVID-19 curbs.

A total of 308 million tourism trips within China have been made during the current holiday period, up 23.1% from 2022’s Lunar New Year break and marking a recovery to 88.6% of the number in 2019, data from the culture and tourism ministry showed on Friday.

China in December began dismantling its stringent zero-COVID measures after nearly three years that saw intermittent citywide lockdowns, slower economic growth and a disrupted tourism and hospitality sector.

Revenue generated from domestic tourism during this year’s holiday stands at 375.84 billion yuan ($55.41 billion), or 73.1% of that in 2019, according to the tourism ministry data.

From Jan. 21 to Jan. 26, the first six days of the holiday, a total of 2.39 million trips were made out of and into China, up 123.9% compared with the Jan. 31 to Feb. 5 period last year, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) said on Friday, citing data on trips made by various means of transport.

Authorities in early January ended a requirement that inbound travellers had to undergo hotel quarantine upon arrival, a policy that had crippled international travel.

Despite the jump, international travel over the holiday period has yet to rebound to pre-COVID levels.

During the Lunar New Year holiday in 2019, a total of 12.53 million cross-border trips were made, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Data from the Ctrip travel company showed domestic and international travel orders on its platform for the Lunar New Year holiday both increased to a three-year peak in 2023, with four times as many overall tourism orders this year as last year.

($1 = 6.7825 Chinese yuan renminbi)


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