Hitting highway over extended holiday becoming big business

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - Tour packages have become increasingly hot commodities during the Spring Festival holiday, said the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

During the just-finished weeklong official break, Chinese holidaymakers made well over 400 million domestic trips, accounting for approximately a third of the entire country’s populace.

Destinations featuring cultural events and exhibitions, including temple fairs and intangible cultural heritage shows, attracted the largest crowds, according to the ministry, with nearly 35 percent of travelers taking in cultural shows over the break.

Fuyang, Anhui province, famous for traditional acrobatic performances, logged nearly 58,000 visits over the holiday, while the province’s Huangshan put on dragon and lion dances.

Li Qiuyan, branding department director with Shanghai-based travel agency Lvmama, said that reservations for cultural-themed spots saw a year-on-year rise of 60 percent, and the Palace Museum in Beijing and Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province were some of the most visited venues.

“Travelers put more emphasis on culture at destinations rather than merely sightseeing, thus helping push forward development of these attractions,” Li said.

“The Palace Museum, for example, uses high tech to present the historic imperial palace and offers diversified experiences for visitors including virtual reality options.” 

Outbound tourism also shot up over the holiday.

Mainland residents registered about 7.22 million exit and entry trips during the seven-day break, up 15.97 percent year-on-year, according to the National Immigration Administration.

The administration said that the 10 most popular destinations for mainland residents were Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States.

Online travel agency Ctrip said its users visited 1,372 domestic and overseas cities in 97 countries and regions worldwide over the holiday, up 18 percent year-on-year. 

The travel agency said that about 30 percent of reservations on its platform were for trips to Thailand and Japan.

Thailand, thanks to preferential visa policies, was among the hottest foreign destinations for Chinese travelers over the holiday, Ctrip said.

Yan Qiu, a 28-year-old from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, spent her weeklong holiday in Thailand with her parents.

“Traveling abroad has become an annual event for my family, and it’s much more relaxing to spend the time traveling together than joining gatherings or parties,” she said.

Leisure travel within the country’s borders is becoming a major breadwinner for those engaged in the industry.

Domestic trips made over the Chinese New Year period were up 7.6 percent year-on-year, according to a ministry news release. 

And revenue generated from this travel reached over 513.9 billion yuan ($75.7 billion), up 8.2 percent over the year-earlier period. 

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