Business
In addition to family reunion, tourism is becoming a popular way of celebrating the Spring Festival
By Ji Jing  ·  2024-02-26  ·   Source: NO.9 FEBRUARY 29, 2024
Tourists visit Fuzimiao, or the Confucius Temple scenic area in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province on February 13 (XINHUA)  

This Spring Festival holiday was an especially happy one for Bai Changli, an employee of a pharmaceutical company in Jinan, Shandong Province, as pandemic control measures and work had kept him from reuniting with his family during the previous three Spring Festivals.

This year's official Spring Festival holiday lasted from February 10 to 17, one day more than previous years.

On February 8, Bai, his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and his mother who looks after her in Jinan made the more than 1,500-km high-speed-rail journey home to Yuzhong County in Lanzhou, Gansu Province.

His grandparents and father welcomed them with a meal at home. Although Bai often talks with his grandparents and father via video chat, he still had a lot to share about his life and work when he saw them in person.

"No matter where I am, home is where I truly belong and reuniting with my family is the most important thing during the Spring Festival," Bai told Lanzhou Daily. Bai's sentiment is typical of the importance many Chinese attach to reuniting with family during the Spring Festival.

During the holiday, a lot of people, just like Bai, achieved their first family reunion in three years. Many people shared photos of big family gatherings on social media platforms, with some featuring about 20 relatives in several generations celebrating the festival under one roof.

Tourists visit the Yanuoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone in Baoting Li and Miao Autonomous County in Hainan Province on February 12 (XINHUA)

Booming tourism 

In addition to traveling to reunite with family, travel for tourism has also become a popular way of celebrating the holiday in recent years.

According to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT), 474 million domestic trips were made for tourism purposes during the Spring Festival holiday, an increase of 34.3 percent over the same period last year and an increase of 19 percent compared with the pre-pandemic level in 2019. 

Domestic tourists spent approximately 632.69 billion yuan ($88.99 billion) during the holiday, up 7.7 percent from the same holiday period in 2019.

New travel trends emerged during the holiday. According to Mafengwo, a travel service and social networking platform, many young people chose to travel after first reuniting with their family to celebrate the Spring Festival on February 10, and there was a surge in the number of tourists on February 12-13. 

Li Yuan (a pseudonym), an employee with an Internet company in Beijing, is one such young person, choosing to split the recent holiday into two halves.

Li said she returned to her hometown in Henan Province on February 9 and spent four days at home celebrating the holiday and visiting relatives. To allow time to travel afterward, she sped through the necessary visits to relatives, driving to visit up to five homes each morning or afternoon, she told Time Finance, a financial new media platform launched by Southern Publishing and Media Group and Guangdong Times Media Group.

After visiting relatives, Li traveled to Sichuan Province and toured Chengdu, the provincial capital, and the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

When asked why she decided to visit family and travel during the holiday, Li said she rarely has time to travel during other times of the year so she had to squeeze in a tour during the Spring Festival holiday.

Hot destinations 

Southerners traveling north to see the snow and northerners traveling south to avoid the cold was one of the most popular trends during the holiday.

Since December 2023, Harbin in Heilongjiang Province has enjoyed enormous popularity as a destination for ice and snow. Bookings via online travel agency Qunar for hotels in Harbin during the holiday tripled those of the previous year.

The southernmost island province of Hainan remained one of the hottest tourist destinations for Spring Festival holiday travel, with more than 700,000 air passenger trips made to the province during the holiday period.

In addition to Hainan, Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province and Beihai in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were also favored destinations for northerners seeking winter getaways, according to online booking website Meituan.

Hong Yong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told Xinhua News Agency that the vastly different natural environments and cultures of north and south China satisfy consumers' psychological need to explore new things.

Touring one's own hometown has also become a new trend, according to a report on the 2024 Spring Festival holiday tourism released by Trip.com, one of the country's leading online travel services, on February 17. During the holiday, many of those who returned to their hometowns revisited local tourist spots with their friends and family members and explored local cuisines. As a result, smaller cities such as Zhoukou and Xinyang in Henan and Shangrao in Jiangxi Province saw ticket orders for their scenic spots increase by 37, 170 and 95 percent respectively during the holiday.

Overseas tourism also experienced a rebound. According to the MCT, around 3.6 million overseas passenger trips were made during the Spring Festival holiday this year.

Tourism to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, three countries which have recently allowed Chinese citizens visa-free entry, surged during the holiday, with plane ticket bookings to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Bangkok in Thailand increasing 29 times, 20 times and 16 times year on year, respectively.

It's notable that in addition to closer international destinations such as Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and the Republic of Korea, tourism to farther destinations such as New Zealand, France, the U.S. and Egypt also saw a rapid increase during the holiday, according to online travel service provider Fliggy, with popular Spring Festival destinations expanding from around 4 hours' flight away in previous years to up to 12 hours away this year.

Dai Bin, President of the China Tourism Academy, told 21st Century Business Herald that celebrating the Chinese New Year with a trip away reflects people's aspiration for a better life and has become a new tradition. BR

(Print Edition Title: The Travel Bug) 

Copyedited by G.P. Wilson 

Comments to jijing@cicgamericas.com 

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