Spring Festival tourism stays in cities this year
Fewer migrant workers return to their hometowns during holiday
A greater number of Chinese people opted for local tours and to refresh themselves at hotels in celebration of this year’s Spring Festival, also known as Lunar New Year, according to data from travel platform Ctrip.
Lunar New Year is a traditional festival where people, no matter where they are, return to their hometowns for family reunions. In a normal year, the annual holiday would have witnessed massive passengers flows heading to their hometowns and family tours to popular national tourist destinations.
This year, to curb the spread of COVID-19, the government called on people to remain where they work during the weeklong holiday, which started on Feb 11, rather than taking long-haul flights, trains or driving to reunite themselves with their families, or to travel to popular tourist destinations outside their cities.
In response, many young migrant workers who live away from their families did not return to home and instead chose to book a local hotel suite or gather with their friends to celebrate the traditional festival.
Many families that live together in the same city also opted for relaxing experiences in hotels as a refreshing change of scene from their daily routine.
Leisure trips within cities or on the outskirts of cities replaced longhaul tours and added to an increase in hotel and bed-and-breakfast bookings near rural tourism attractions.
Hotel bookings for this year’s Lunar New Year holiday across the country were slightly higher than the same period in 2019 before the outbreak of the pandemic.
Some 60 percent of bookings were made with four or five-starrated hotels, according to Ctrip data.
Hotels and resorts, which feature hot springs or are near amusement parks, were popular destinations for tourists during the holiday, with rural B&Bs almost fully booked, Long Fei, an expert on cultural tourism at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China National Radio.
Guo Kun, general manager of a hot spring resort near Slender West Lake, a major scenic site in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, told Chinese media that he was aware of greater consumer enthusiasm during this year’s Spring Festival.
Starting from Feb 13, his hotel was fully booked for three consecutive days, Guo said. “It was far beyond our expectations.”
The average room rate for a onenight stay at highly rated properties was more than 2,900 yuan ($450), a more than fourfold increase from that in January, according to Ctrip.
Shanghai ranked top among Chinese cities in terms of hotel bookings during the festival, followed by Beijing and Sanya in Hainan province.
Guangzhou and Shenzhen, major cities in South China’s Guangdong province, took fourth and fifth place respectively.
Except for Sanya, a traditional seaside holiday resort, the other four among the top five on the chart are all first-tier cities that have attracted flocks of college graduates and high-level professionals from other regions with better career prospects.
New first-tier cities, including Chongqing, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Suzhou, also made the top 10 cities list.
On the top 10 hotels list in terms of bookings, seven are situated in Shanghai, according to Ctrip data.
In Beijing, parks administered by the city government and the Museum of Chinese Gardens and Landscape Architecture received 1.64 million visits during the holiday, up 167 percent compared with the same holiday last year, according to the Beijing Administration Center of Parks.
The Temple of Heaven was Beijing’s most-popular destination with 248,700 visits during the holiday, with Beijing Zoo and the Summer Palace receiving 226,000 and 204,300 visits, respectively.
Amid regular pandemic control, online ticket bookings were required, and caps on the number of visitors were set to prevent overcrowding. Daily reservations to visit the parks did not exceed 50 percent of daily visitor capacities.
Online tours were also a popular choice, allowing people to enjoy the beauty of parks from the comfort of home. According to the Beijing Administration Center of Parks, livestreaming activities offering park tours attracted nearly 2 million views during the holiday.