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China’s Golden Week Holiday Set to Boost Travel Market with Over 21 Million Flights

by Rahil M
0 comment

China’s Golden Week holiday is poised to provide a substantial boost to the country’s travel market, with millions of people taking flights and exploring both domestic and international destinations.

As China’s Golden Week holiday arrives, the country’s travel market is preparing for a significant boost. Over 21 million people are expected to take flights during this eight-day holiday, which combines both the Mid-Autumn festival and the National Day break. This is a unique occurrence as the date of the Mid-Autumn festival depends on the lunar calendar. After several years of restricted travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the additional day is a bonus for travelers.

Jin Junhao, a deputy director at the Civil Aviation Administration of China, stated during a briefing in Beijing that “more than 21 million passengers will travel by air during the holiday period.” Domestically, this will result in approximately 14,000 domestic flights per day, as reported by the regulator.

With Chinese tourists eager to book flights, airfares are on the rise, particularly on popular routes. For instance, Air China Ltd.’s economy-class tickets for a flight from Beijing to Chengdu on September 29th are listed at 1,800 yuan ($250), compared to 680 yuan for September 22nd. Long-haul international flights, such as Shanghai-Sydney, also show fares that are double or more compared to flights later in October.

Higher fares partly reflect the growing popularity of more distant destinations within China, made more appealing by the extended holiday period. Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai, Ningxia, and Heilongjiang in the far northeast are among the most sought-after locations. Online travel agency Tongcheng reported a more than tenfold increase in searches for Xinjiang-related travel packages compared to a year ago.

The eight-day holiday also allows for more extended travel, with a study by data and analytics firm ForwardKeys revealing that 37% of travelers plan to stay in their destinations for six to eight nights, a 3-percentage point increase from 2019, before the pandemic.

Outbound travel is also picking up momentum, especially after Chinese authorities lifted the ban on group tours in August. Favourable entry policies in countries like Thailand have contributed to this uptick. Data from flight tracker Umetrip indicates that bookings for international routes are approaching 1 million for the holiday period.

Trip.com has reported that outbound travel bookings on its platform are nearly 20 times higher than during last year’s holiday when China still had stringent COVID policies, such as mandatory quarantine and testing. Among the most popular overseas destinations are Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and the UK.

According to data from Flight Master, bookings between Tokyo and China’s two largest cities, Shanghai and Beijing, rank among the top 10 international routes for the holiday period.

China’s regulator has encouraged airlines to add shifts and utilize widebody aircraft on busy routes. Jin Junhao mentioned that carriers should also explore opportunities to serve smaller Chinese cities.

The surge in demand leading up to the Golden Week holiday has propelled China’s air passenger traffic to record highs for two consecutive months in July and August. This comes as much-needed relief for China’s three leading airlines, namely Air China, China Southern Airlines Co., and China Eastern Airlines Corp., which collectively posted losses of about 200 billion yuan from 2020 to mid-2023 due to the pandemic’s impact on travel.

China’s Golden Week holiday is poised to provide a substantial boost to the country’s travel market, with millions of people taking flights and exploring both domestic and international destinations. The Golden Week also signifies the resilience of China’s travel industry as it bounces back from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It showcases the enduring appeal of travel and the eagerness of Chinese travelers to explore new horizons. This surge in travel demand offers a glimmer of hope for airlines that have faced significant losses in recent years.

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