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Long holiday weekend sees Chinese travel spending surpass pre-Covid levels

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During last week’s extended Qingming Festival weekend, domestic travel and spending in China rose more than 10% above pre-pandemic levels. Traditionally, the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping holiday, is a day on which the Chinese honour the death by sweeping their tombs while burning paper offerings and leaving traditional dishes for them to eat. Its origins go back to over 2,500 years ago but it has only been a public holiday in mainland China since 2008.

Government data shows the Chinese spent over 7.5 billion dollars domestically from 4 April until 6 April. The economically positive weekend is seen as promising, as the recovery of the Chinese travel industry has been slow post-pandemic.

The Chinese economic recovery has been slow overall, not just in terms of tourism. According to Reuters, property market downturn, high youth unemployment and concerns over job security have been defining the economic slowdown over the last years and consumption numbers were quick to follow that negative trend. Even this February, during the Lunar New Year holiday, spending was 9.5% down compared to 2019. At the time, analysts spoke about “consumption downgrading”.

During the Qingming Festival, however, things seem to have taken a turn. According to the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism, over 119 million domestic trips were logged during the three days, marking an 11.5% increase compared to 2019.

As far as destinations go, Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuhan and Changsha proved to be very popular this year. And ,at 7.61 billion dollars, or about 60.14 dollars per person, the Chinese spent 12.7% more during the holiday than before the pandemic. Numbers which are now more important than ever, given the fact that China is counting on tourism and consumption to boost its economy.

“Our sense is that there is a small but growing sentiment within white collar jobs that the market situation is improving and this is also leading to greater willingness to spend”, said Ben Cavender, managing director at Shanghai-based China Market Research Group.

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