Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Chinese Tourists Fuel Travel Bookings Far and Wide During 2024 May Golden Week

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Chinese tourists pose in a field of canola flowers. Photo credit: Getty Images

Chinese tourists are taking to the road and air this week in droves for the five-day May Golden Week holiday, data from Alibaba Group’s travel platform Fliggy and navigation app Amap reveals.

The vacation period, which starts on China’s Labor Day on 1 May, will see millions of people across the country travel near and far to explore and relax with friends and family.

Outbound travel bookings during the holiday in 2024 doubled year-on-year, according to Fliggy, with cruises, car rentals and independent travel plans driving demand. 

Regional tourism stalwarts like Japan, Thailand, South Korea and Australia accounted for a large portion of outbound bookings, but destinations as far afield as Brazil and Turkey also registered an uptick in interest.

Likewise, domestic travel over the upcoming May Golden Week looks set to smash pre-pandemic records as Chinese tourists explore folk culture across the country.

Bookings for tours in China doubled compared with the same period in 2019, according to Fliggy, as domestic tourists plan to visit popular destinations, including Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Wuhan.

Car rentals have also surged five-fold on the platform for the holiday period. Amap predicts traffic peaks on the morning of 1 May and the afternoon of 5 May as travelers depart and return from their adventures.

Going Further for Less

Overseas travel is becoming more affordable, making it easier for Chinese travelers to expand their horizons. 

The average price per person for international air tickets dropped by 19% year-on-year for flights during the May Day holiday period, according to Fliggy.

“Air tickets are much cheaper than last year, and there is a wider choice of overseas travel destinations,” said a Beijing-based Fliggy user surnamed Wang, who plans to travel with her family during the upcoming holiday.

Travel by boat is also making waves among Chinese consumers, the platform’s booking data shows. 

The number of outbound cruise packages booked through Fliggy during the upcoming holiday has increased by more than 16 times year-on-year.

Tailor-made Travel

Chinese tourists are increasingly taking to the road solo or in smaller groups to explore destinations at their leisure and immerse themselves in local culture, booking data shows.

Group outbound bookings have declined compared with last year, while independent travel continues to rise, according to Fliggy. The platform ranks first in the outbound independent travel sector with a market share of 39.4%, per market researcher Fastdata.

Within China, consumers’ growing preference for authentic local experiences, often accessed via rental car trips, has stoked interest in heritage tourism.

Many domestic tourists who visit historical sites such as Hangzhou’s UNESCO-listed West Lake or Chongqing’s ancient Shibati neighborhood enjoy dressing up in hanfu, clothing traditionally worn in past centuries by the Han.

Their dress may be old-fashioned, but these tourists will rely on Amap’s high-tech travel planning tools to beat an expected surge in crowds and traffic jams.

The platform predicts West Lake will be the most popular scenic spot for independent travelers during the May Golden Week and has shared alternate routes to avoid highway congestion.

Discover more stories from China’s tourism sector 

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