China's outbound tourism booms during May Day holiday
A Chinese tourist poses for photos at the Colosseo in Rome, Italy, on May 1, 2023. (Xinhua/Jin Mamengni)
BEIJING, May 2 (Xinhua) -- China's outbound tourism has been experiencing a boom off the scale during the May Day holiday season, the first long holiday after the seven-day Spring Festival holiday in late January.
The five-day holiday is traditionally one of China's busiest tourist seasons. The country's travel-hungry citizens started planning their outbound trips weeks before April 29, the first day of the break.
Data from Chinese travel agency Trip.com Group shows that by early April, mainland outbound travel bookings for this holiday had multiplied by 18 times year-on-year.
The outbound group travel market was halted in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After China resumed outbound group tours this February, travel agencies have been busy with tourists' pent-up demand.
Shanghai-based travel agency Spring Tour launched tours to Spain, Portugal, Iran, and Russia last week, which would run throughout the holiday.
"Spain has been my dream destination for three years, and the 11-day trip to Spain and Portugal fits our plan perfectly," said Ms. Xu, who signed up for Spring Tour and started her honeymoon on April 26.
Data from Alibaba's travel branch Fliggy shows that orders for outbound trips during the holiday increased by 200 percent compared to this year's Spring Festival, with Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, and Malaysia emerging as the top travel destinations.
"By taking the high-speed railway, it only took me about 15 minutes from Shenzhen to Hong Kong," said Yuan Yue, who made her trip on April 29.
Although getting to Hong Kong was convenient, Yuan said hotels were almost fully booked during the holiday and the prices were higher than expected.
"It's been three years since I made my last outbound trip, so it's worth the price," said Yuan.
Businesses abroad also warmly welcome Chinese tourists as outsized contributors to the international travel market.
"Sixty percent of the luxury purchases in Italy and 50 percent of the luxury purchases in Europe are made by international travelers, and most of them are Chinese," said Stefania Lazzaroni, general manager of Italy's luxury brands committee Altagamma.
"We miss them for almost three years. We hope to have the return of the Chinese people here," said Violante Avogadro, chief communications officer of Illycaffe, a well-known Italian coffee producer.
She said the world seemed a bit empty without Chinese tourists and believes people all over Europe are thrilled to have them back.
The growth of outbound tourism also drives the recovery of the airline industry.
Since April 25, China Southern Airlines has increased the direct flights from Guangzhou, a southern Chinese metropolis, to Paris from one round trip per week to two round trips per week.
During the holiday, the airline opened routes from Guangzhou to Southeast Asia tourist attractions including Bali, Sabah, and Chiang Mai, it also increased the number of flights to Singapore and Bangkok.
Dai Bin, president of China Tourism Academy, said that China's outbound tourism market would see a sustained and accelerated recovery throughout 2023.