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China’s domestic tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels — Charts of Week
Understand China’s “Golden Week” data in 6 charts
The 2023 National Day holiday in China, also known as the "Golden Week," lasted for 8 days. This is even longer than a typical Spring Festival period because the National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival coincided, resulting in an extended holiday period. (In past years, the National Day holiday typically lasted for 7 days.)
The extended holiday period offers people more opportunities for rest and travel, while also promoting domestic tourism and consumption. Chinese consumers can use this time to enjoy family reunions, travel, and relax, thereby positively impacting industries like tourism and retail.
Tourism has been the top-performing sector since 2023
Tourism has been experiencing a rapid recovery since the lifting of Covid restrictions. In August 2023, the tourism Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached 14.8%, the highest level since before the pandemic. Since the 2019 pandemic, the tourism CPI index in China had been declining nationwide until the end of last year when the zero-Covid policies were lifted. From that point, it slowly began to rise.
The months of June to August in 2023 marked the first summer vacation for students since the lift, which boosted the rapid increase in domestic tourism and the tourism CPI during this period.
Domestic tourism has surpassed the pre-Covid level in 2019
Ministry of Culture and Tourism: Domestic tourism during the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday has recovered to 104.1% and 101.5% in the same period in 2019, respectively.
However, both data points are lower than the Ministry of Culture and Tourism's estimate on September 30th, which projected 896 million trips and domestic tourism revenue of 782.5 billion yuan.
The total number of domestic tourist trips during this year's Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday reached 826 million, showing a year-on-year growth of 71.3% and a 4.1% increase compared to 2019 (pre-Covid).
The revenue from domestic tourism reached 753.43 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year growth of 129.5% and a 1.5% increase compared to 2019.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism did not provide a direct report on per-capita spending during the holiday period. However, based on calculations of revenue per number of tourists, the per capita tourism expenditure during the 2023 Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday was 912 yuan. This amount represents 109.8% of the expenditure during the 2019 National Day holiday (831 yuan). In comparison to the 2023 Labor Day holiday (540 yuan), per capita expenditure increased by 69%, reaching the highest level of post-pandemic recovery.
Outbound tourism has recovered to 85% of the pre-pandemic level in 2019
According to the WeChat official account of the National Immigration Administration, a total of 11.818 million people were inspected for entry and exit by the national border control agencies during this year's Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday period, with an average of 1.477 million people per day. This represents an approximately 2.9-fold increase compared to the same period last year and is 85.1% of the level during the same period in 2019.
When it comes to travel destinations, popular flight destinations include the Hong Kong and Macau regions, as well as Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, and Australia.
Comparison of the growth rate of China's major holiday flights to key countries in 2023 compared to 2019
Boosted by domestic consumption and tourism, the catering and retail industry has experienced a faster-than-average recovery in the number of job postings since April 2023.
During the 2023 National Day holiday period (September 29th to October 6th), the number of property showings for existing homes increased by 12% compared to the 8 days before the holiday (September 21st to September 28th). However, the transaction volume decreased by 23%.
Compared to the Labor Day holiday in 2023, the National Day holiday saw weaker numbers in terms of existing home showings and transactions. During the five-day Labor Day holiday (April 29th to May 3rd), the number of property showings increased by 57% compared to the 5 days before the holiday, and the transaction volume decreased by 1%.