COVID rules make tourists wary of holiday travel

An aerial photo shows people riding bamboo rafts to enjoy the scenery during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in Wuyishan National Park in southeast China’s Fujian Province, on September 11, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

More people decide to take shorter trips closer to home during the Mid-Autumn vacation

Official figures showed that domestic tourism declined due to the unexpected situation of COVID-19 and restrictive policies that dampened people’s enthusiasm for long-distance travel during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday.

The latest figures released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Monday show that the domestic market saw more than 73.4 million trips during the three-day break from Saturday to Monday, down 16.7 percent year-on-year. Trips were about 73 percent of the number in the same period in 2019 before the outbreak of COVID-19.

The revenue generated during the holiday was about 28.7 billion yuan ($4.15 billion), down 22.8 percent year on year, the ministry said. The figure was about 61 percent of that number in 2019.

But travel agencies gave relatively optimistic opinions about the market’s performance during the holiday.

The Group, an online travel agency, said in a report that the average daily number of bookings on its platform saw double-digit growth over the normal range during the holiday, and double that during the Tomb-Sweeping Day and Labor Day holidays. Back in April and May.

Faced with the uncertainty regarding travel restrictions in certain places across the country, many have instead opted to take short trips closer to home.

For example, the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council issued a notice on September 8 that people are invited to spend their holidays near their homes to avoid any possible outbreak as a result of the large-scale influx of residents.

From Saturday to October 31, she said, travelers must have a negative nucleic acid test result to board flights, trains, buses and ferries on cross-county trips.

According to Tuniu, another travel agency, nearly 70 percent of its users took short trips on their holidays, and destinations like Shanghai Disney Resort and Universal Beijing Resort were popular choices for day travelers.

The group said that thanks to the increase in short tours, rural accommodations have also welcomed more guests. It said more than 70 percent of its users booked rural accommodations during the holiday to enjoy home-based activities such as making mooncakes and lanterns and appreciating the moon.

“My family booked a house in Pinghu District for the holiday. There are a lot of skeptics traveling due to anti-epidemic policies in different places,” said Yan Ping, a 34-year-old from Beijing. “We picked peaches, which are a specialty of the area and made mooncakes with other families at the property. It was a very good experience for my young son, my wife and me too.”

Lvmama, an online travel agency, said Huangxian Forest Park in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, organized parties to celebrate the holiday, which included events such as afternoon tea, a moon appreciation cocktail party and some traditional Chinese activities to pray for good luck.

Visits to the park increased 17-fold year over year during the holiday.