Travel News| Surge in Travel Expected for Dragon Boat Festival, Europe Dominates Summer Holiday Trends

June 17, 2024
By Carrie Li

China’s Tourism Economy to Hit Record High in 2024

 The tourism sector in China is poised to achieve a record contribution of 12.62 trillion yuan to the national economy by the end of 2024, according to the latest Economic Impact Research (EIR) published jointly by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Oxford Economics. Domestic travel spending is set to reach a new peak, adding 6.79 trillion yuan to China’s economy in 2024. Employment within the tourism industry, though still 2% below 2019 levels, is expected to represent 10.6% of all jobs in China this year. Despite a rise in tourism’s GDP contribution and a recovery to pre-pandemic employment levels, international visitor spending in China is projected to remain 25% lower than in 2019.

Reflecting on 2023, the tourism industry contributed 9.2 trillion yuan, a 24% decrease from 2019 levels, with a 16% increase in employment. However, the total number of tourism jobs was still 800,000 below the previous peak of 77.47 million. Last year also saw a modest increase in domestic tourist spending to just over 5 trillion yuan, down 17.2% from 2019, while international travel spending was just over 406 billion yuan, down nearly 58%. The tourism market in Northeast Asia is expected to grow by over 29% in 2024, reaching a record $2.3 trillion, with spending by international visitors anticipated to exceed $250 billion. Domestic tourist expenditure is expected to hit a historic high of $1.2 trillion, nearly 10% above pre-pandemic levels.

As one of the last major economies to reopen borders post-pandemic, China’s reopening in 2023 significantly influenced the global tourism industry’s recovery. Julia Simpson, President and CEO of WTTC highlighted that the Chinese tourism sector is showing robust signs of recovery in both economic contribution and domestic spending. However, the pace of recovery in international tourist spending has been slower due to the delayed reopening. She noted that China’s streamlined visa application process is a positive step, likely attracting more overseas visitors in the coming years.

Dragon Boat Festival Set to Boost Travel Activity 

The upcoming Dragon Boat Festival is expected to see a significant uptick in travel, with the National Immigration Administration forecasting a daily average of 1.75 million international movements at national ports during the festival period, a 32.5% increase from last year. Significant airports, including Shanghai Pudong and Guangzhou Baiyun, are seeing steady traffic growth alongside a continuous rise in land port traffic adjacent to Hong Kong and Macau.

Homestay bookings for the festival have increased by 54%, with Xiaozhu Homestays noting a surge in pet-friendly travel. The platform’s data shows a 274% increase in searches for pet-friendly options, indicating a growing trend towards accommodation that caters to travellers with pets.

Summer Travel Heats Up with European Destinations Leading the Way 

Long-haul summer travel is entering a peak booking period, with outbound vacation bookings doubling compared to last year. The China Tourism Academy reported that last summer saw 1.839 billion domestic travellers, with tourist spots reaching record visitors. Ctrip’s data indicates that bookings for domestic summer travel products have significantly increased, with outbound holiday travel nearly doubling year-on-year. Popular destinations for the upcoming summer include Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, the USA, the UK, South Korea, Singapore, France, Australia, and Italy, with significant interest driven by favourable exchange rates and major international events like the European Championship and the Olympics.

China Leads and Welcomes in Global Tourism

 As the Dragon Boat Festival and summer holidays draw near, Chinese online travel platforms report a steady rise in bookings for outbound travel products. China, now the world’s largest source of international tourists, continues to see a surge in outbound travel while also welcoming an increasing number of international visitors, thanks to an expanding visa-free zone and increased flight frequencies. The growing interest in inbound travel to China reflects the country’s rising cultural soft power and global appeal, with the number of foreigners visiting China in the first quarter of this year tripling from the same period last year.

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