China’s huge tourism industry appears to be on the mend after online travel agencies reported better-than-expected booking figures during the country’s eight-day Golden Week national holiday.

Travel agency Fliggy, which is owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba, revealed that its hotel bookings nationwide had increased more than 50% year-on-year during the holiday, while bookings at high-end hotels had almost doubled.

Another online firm, Tongcheng-Elong, said its domestic hotel bookings had risen by 40% in the first four days of October compared with the same period last year.

And reported that car rentals increased by more than 50% year-on-year, while the number of group tours involving family or friends doubled, Xinhua reported.

Official statistics added weight to the optimistic outlook, with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism reporting that 637 million domestic tourist visits were made in the eight days to October 8th, or equivalent to 79% of visits made during the same holiday period last year.

The ministry also calculated that tourism revenues reached 466.56bn yuan (about US$68.5bn), or 69.9% of the revenues the industry earned in the same period in 2019.

“In any year, the outlay of the weeklong holiday is a closely watched barometer of the country’s economic health,” reported Vivian Wang of The New York Times at the beginning of the national holiday.

“This year it may be especially so, offering the clearest measure yet of China’s recovery from the pandemic as people squeeze into train cars, crowd into ancient temples, and do everything else that people in many other countries can still only dream of,” she added.

Xinhua, China’s official news agency, also expressed confidence that the return of mass tourism in the country – even, it seems, in Wuhan, the former epicentre of COVID-19 – would benefit the world economy too.

“The huge consumption potential during the Golden Week will not only accelerate the recovery of China’s domestic economy but also drive imports and investment from other countries, as the booming ‘holiday economy’ fuels internal circulation and promotes external circulation at the same time, offering a strong boost to global trade and the world economy,” Xinhua reported.

Sourced from Xinhua, The New York Times