Spring festival boom propels concerted consumption
By Zhang Hui  ·  2024-02-22  ·   Source: China Today

The 474 million trips – raking in RMB 632.69 billion of tourism-related revenue – during the eight-day Spring Festival holiday indisputably signifies both the vitality of China’s economy and the huge potential of the country’s domestic consumption. The figures respectively represent a 19 percent increase and a 7.7 percent growth over those for the same holiday period, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2019, according to data released by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism on February 18. 


Tourists visit the Fuzi (Confucius) Temple scenic area in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 14, 2024. (XINHUA)  

Ever more Chinese people, encouraged by national and local tourism promotion policies and activities, opted for travel as a way to spend this most important Chinese festival. The resultant economic boom was hence to be expected. In any event, it augurs a bright outlook for China’s economy in 2024, and underlines domestic consumption as the major engine whereby to boost the country’s economy.  

Throngs of tourists in scenic spots, together with packed roads, airports, and movie theaters, painted the vibrant scenarios of a burgeoning economy. Official data show that the 163 million or more moviegoers – 26.36 percent more than last year – flocking to cinemas nationwide during the eight-day holiday generated RMB 8.02 billion in box-office revenue, an 18.47 percent increase compared with last year. Beijing, Xi’an, Harbin, and Sanya were among the most popular tourist destinations, according to Chinese travel website Mafengwo. In addition to the trend where residents of sultry south China journeyed to the country’s frigid northeastern regions to wonder at and explore their ice-and-snow wonderlands, while northeastern locals headed for tropical Sanya and Guangzhou to escape the wintry weather, data from Ctrip, China’s one-stop online travel service platform, also show a five-fold increase in demand over the same period last year for tailored tours. Orders for Lunar New Year-themed travel in such ancient cities as Xi’an, Lijiang, and Langzhong, meanwhile, showed a 10-fold year-on-year increase.  


Tourists watch a dragon dance performance at the Zhengding ancient city in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Feb. 15, 2024. (XINHUA) 

Of particular note is that museums were among the main tourist attractions. Official data show that museums across China received approximately 73.58 million visits during the holiday – a whopping 98.6 percent more than last year. As 2024 is the lunar Year of the Dragon, displays of Chinese dragon-themed cultural relics in museums across the country drew hordes of visitors. The exhibition at the Beijing World Art Museum depicting how the Chinese dragon became a totem of Chinese culture comprised 200 or more pieces/sets of objects from various collections.  

Analysts observe that localities presented diversified consumption scenarios and multi-level consumption supplies reflecting their distinctive local resources. Record high economic figures, moreover, imply greater consumer confidence in the country’s economic outlook.   

China’s effusive economic vitality also overspilled into other countries. Mutual visa exemptions, for instance, fueled outbound and inbound tourist markets. Official data show that border checks nationwide handled about 13.52 million entrances by both Chinese and foreign travelers during the eight-day holiday, with a daily average that reached 1.69 million – almost 90 percent of the 2019 level. Owing to their visa-free policies for Chinese travelers, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia took pole position among the top 10 overseas destinations. Hotel bookings in Bangkok from February 10 to 13 tripled year-on-year, and reservations for Singaporean hotels posted an awe-inspiring 800 percent rise, according to the travel platform. 


Tourists get off a passenger ship at the Lianyungang Port in Lianyungang City, east China's Jiangsu Province, Feb. 15, 2024. (XINHUA) 

The holiday economic boom made nonsense of the “Peak China” rhetoric, currently prevalent in the Western media, which claims that China has reached the upward limit of its economic power. At the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos, Kevin Rudd, Australian ambassador to the U.S. and former prime minister of Australia, refuted the “Peak China” narrative, calling it “intellectually and analytically flawed,” holding that China’s consumer market carries “untapped potential” to propel long-term growth. “You don't have to have been to China hundreds of times over 40 years to conclude that the Chinese consumer is the best guarantor of China's economic future. So long as the Chinese consumer has confidence in China's future, the economy will continue to grow reasonably well,” Rudd said. According to the recent China Economic Update released by the World Bank, China’s economic growth momentum, driven by the gradual recovery of consumer confidence and policy stimulus, is likely to remain stable. 

In fact, China’s booming market is boosting global confidence in the world’s second largest economy, and bringing opportunities to global players. “We recently released a forecast for the global aviation services market in the next 20 years. It shows that the value of China’s aviation services market will triple to lead the world,” Airbus China Chief Executive Officer George Xu said. 

A recent survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China showed that 50 percent of U.S. companies polled ranked China as a top three investment priority. The majority of U.S. companies surveyed will continue their presence in China, 77 percent having indicated no concrete plan to transfer their production or procurement out of China. 

Meanwhile, the Business Confidence Survey 2023/24, recently released by the German Chamber of Commerce in China, shows that 91 percent of the 566 respondent German companies will continue their presence in the Chinese market, and have no plans to leave the country. More than half of the companies surveyed intend to increase their investment in China in the coming two years. 

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