For tour firms, joy springs from Fe­bru­ary frenzy

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By WANG WEN wang­wen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Zhang Qiong, 29, a res­i­dent of Beijing, will spend the seven-day Spring Fes­ti­val hol­i­day, which be­gins on Fe­bru­ary 8, with her par­ents on the Bali is­land in In­done­sia. She con­firmed her tour itin­er­ary, in­clud­ing flights and ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion, this month. Only, Bali wasn’t her pre­ferred des­ti­na­tion.

Zhang is among the many Chi­nese tourists who plan their hol­i­day tours months in ad­vance th­ese days. But, even that is prov­ing to be in­ad­e­quate.

The travel agency’s sales­man told Zhang she could depart only on the third day of the hol­i­day, not ear­lier. Tours start­ing on the first two days of the hol­i­day were sold out much be­fore she reached the agency. So, now that she bought a five-day Bali pack­age tour, she will have to ap­ply for one or two days of leave.

“It seems I was late even though I made the book­ing in De­cem­ber for a tour in Fe­bru­ary. I couldn’t get the pack­ages I really wanted,” Zhang said.

Ever since the au­thor­i­ties re­leased the 2016 Spring Fes­ti­val sched­ule on Dec 10, travel agen­cies have been work­ing over­time to meet tourist frenzy.

“We have seen a boom in the Spring Fes­ti­val mar­ket al­though it is still more than a month away,” said Liu Qing, CEO of the out­bound tourism depart­ment of Tongcheng Net­work Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd, China’s third-largest on­line travel agency based in Suzhou, Jiangsu prov­ince.

Agreed Li Men­gran, pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager of Beijing UTour In­ter­na­tional Travel Ser­vice Co Ltd, a Beijing-based travel agency fo­cus­ing on out­bound tourism. “We have al­ready sold out 80 to 90 per­cent of the tours that start at the be­gin­ning of the hol­i­day.”

“The over­seas long-term pack­ages sold like hot cakes in early De­cem­ber,” said Dai Yu, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor of Ctrip. com In­ter­na­tional Ltd, the largest on­line travel agency in China.

The num­ber of Chi­nese out­bound trav­el­ers dur­ing the Spring Fes­ti­val usu­ally ac­counts for 5 per­cent of the whole year’s fig­ure, ac­cord­ing to Ctrip.

Pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions in­clude New Zealand, Aus­tralia, the United States and four Euro­pean coun­tries (the Czech Repub­lic, Hun­gary, Aus­tria and Slo­vakia), all of which re­ceived hun­dreds of book­ings each day. Some tours were sold out by mid-De­cem­ber, Dai said.

Still, book­ings con­tinue un­abated, and are set to ex­ceed last year’s fig­ures, ac­cord­ing to Tongcheng.

Liu said the Novem­ber ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Paris ap­pear to have made some trav­el­ers drop their ini­tial West-bound plans and in­stead pick des­ti­na­tions in Ja­pan and South Korea.

South­east Asia, Ja­pan and South Korea are usu­ally the main des­ti­na­tions for the short-haul trav­el­ers, Liu said. Sales of short-haul pack­ages con­trib­uted more than 50 per­cent to Tongcheng’s to­tal sales of Spring Fes­ti­val out­bound tourism.

The Spring Fes­ti­val tour pack­ages are slightly more ex­pen­sive, Liu said, but added prices are stable this year com­pared with last year.

REUTERS

Ski in­struc­tor Xu Zhongx­ing (right) talks to a client at a ski re­sort in Switzer­land. More and more Chi­nese are tak­ing a lik­ing to ski­ing there.

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