Tourism in China gets off to roaring start in 2024
By Liu Jianing  ·  2024-02-23  ·   Source:

"Due to a great influx of tourists, I was so busy in recent days that I won't have any day off during the Spring Festival holiday this year," said a travel guide surnamed Zhang from Lesheng Tianxia International Travel Agency after guiding tourists in the Palace Museum on Feb. 4.

Beijing received about 17.5 million visitors during the Chinese New Year holiday, representing a 37.4% growth year on year. Tourists flocked to the capital city even several days before the holiday started.


People enjoy ice staking in the Shichahai Ice Rink in Beijing on February 4, 2024. (LIU JIANING) 

"The most exciting experience for me in Beijing was ice skating in the ice rink of Summer Palace, which I had never experienced in my hometown," said a tourist surnamed Zhang from Guangdong in southern China. "My mom and I got up very early in the morning to avoid queuing for a long time, and we enjoyed ice skating for about three hours."

Beijing's popularity was just one example of the travel boom during the Chinese New Year holiday. During the eight-day holiday, 474 million domestic trips were made across China, up 34.3% from last year and 19% from 2019, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Tourist spending reached 632.7 billion yuan (US$89.07 billion), up 47.3% year on year.

"Tourism during the 2024 Spring Festival holiday was the most thriving in history," said Liu Xiangyan, an associate researcher from China Tourism Academy. Besides going back to their hometowns for family reunion as per tradition, more people chose to travel with their family members to celebrate the holiday, Liu said.


This photo taken on February 16, 2024 shows a lantern show held in Taiyuan Ancient County scenic spot in Taiyuan, north China's Shanxi province. (Xinhua/Zhan Yan) 

Tourists enjoyed folk activities like temple fairs and lantern fairs hosted in scenic spots and historical and cultural blocks, and experienced intangible culture heritage events. More people wore Hanfu and other kinds of traditional clothes for Spring Festival, which reflected a deeper integration of traditional culture with people's daily life, Liu added.

Notably, more residents from small and medium-sized cities and rural areas joined the travel frenzy, and tourism markets there boast great growth potential, Liu said.


An artist performs fire-breathing at a temple fair in Zaozhuang, east China's Shandong province, on February 10, 2024. People across China are enjoying temple fairs, lantern shows and other events to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year and embrace the festive atmosphere. (XINHUA) 

During the holiday, 24.6% of rural residents went for trips, and their trips accounted for about a quarter of the total domestic trips, according to China Tourism Academy. Travel orders more than doubled year on year in a number of small and medium-sized cities, including Zibo of Shandong province, Jingdezhen of Jiangxi, and Datong of Shanxi, according to statistics from Group, one of the largest travel service providers in China.

Besides roaring domestic travel, explosive growth in inbound and outbound travel emerged as a highlight as well. Both outbound and inbound travel bookings this year surpassed the figures for the same period in 2019, and inbound travel in particular grew by 48% than 2019, according to data released by Group.


Chinese tourists visit the Giza Pyramids scenic spot in Giza, Egypt, on February 8, 2024. (XINHUA) 

A Belarusian woman named Marina traveled to China to spend the Spring Festival holiday with her Chinese boyfriend. "I am interested in the capital city of China, especially its history and architecture," she said. "Belarusians can visit China visa free, so I don't have to apply for a visa for my trip to China."

China has rolled out a raft of measures to facilitate cross-border travel in recent months, with special emphasis on improving visa policies. The country has established comprehensive mutual visa exemption with 23 countries so far, with the latest being Thailand and Singapore.

These measures shorten the time needed to prepare for inbound and outbound trips, encourage travelers to have longer trips, and give them more options with flexible arrangements, according to Liu from China Tourism Academy.

The number of domestic tourist trips is estimated to exceed 6 billion, with the revenue reaching 6 trillion yuan in 2024, while the total number of inbound and outbound trips is expected to exceed 260 million, according to the tourism academy.

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