Bookings heat up to match summer travels
China's summer tourism market seems to be more sizzling than the scorching temperatures as statistics from travel operators showed.
As of Wednesday, the bookings of hotels, tourist attractions and tourism-related transport in half a month since the summer vacation started surpassed that of the same period in 2019, Shanghai-based online travel operator Trip.com revealed on Friday.
Night tours are gaining popularity with ticket purchases for scenic spots with night tours surging 307 percent from the pre-pandemic period, and the consumption had surpassed that of 2019, Trip.com said.
Amusement parks are particularly popular options among Gen-Z and families with children, while Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Xi'an and Hangzhou are among the most popular domestic tourist destinations this summer.
Eying the heated-up summer night tourism market, attractions have stepped up efforts to lure travelers.
"We have upgraded our attractions with music festivals, firework shows, parades and camping to lure young tourists," said Zhang Jianbin, executive director of Haichang Ocean Park.
Travel boom amid diversified tour options
Online travel operator Tongcheng Travel said water amusement, night tour, city walk and music festival are some of the keywords that epitomize the trends for this year's summer vacation.
The search index of educational tours had surged 203 percent since July from the same period last month, and tourists are pursuing smaller scale, more flexible and better-quality products, it said.
Culture tours at museums and trips at zoos and botanical gardens as well as grasslands and deserts are the most favored.
The annual international beer festival in Qingdao, in east China's Shandong Province, which opened on Friday, has boosted the popularity index of the city by 205 percent, while beach resorts like Sanya, Xiamen, Zhoushan and Dalian remain popular.
Young travelers are exploring some niche islands such as Huaniao in Zhoushan, Pingtan in Fuzhou, Nan'ao in Shantou and Yangma in Yantai this summer, according to the travel operator.
The summer tourism market of China has fully recovered to the pre-pandemic level, according to Lvmama, a Shanghai-based online travel operator.
It said the percentage of domestic long-distance tour itinerary bookings, at over 40 percent of the total, had surpassed that of 2019, with bookings for amusement parks, zoos and botanical gardens dominating family travel.
With the travel boom, a price hike on air tickets to popular destinations such as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has taken place and many popular tourist products have sold out, it said.
"Personalized and tailored educational tours are more popular among families with children, who have shown interest in new itineraries such as geomorphologic surveys, the Silk Road and biodiversity-themed tours," said Zou Qingling, chief executive of the travel website.
Countries compete for outbound travel
Destinations in Asia are popular outbound destinations as the recovery of long-distance trips lags behind, confronted with visa reservations and air ticket and hotel price hikes, according to Lvmama.
Destinations with convenient visa policies are favored, it said.
ENIT, Italy's tourism authorities, hosted roadshows in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing recently to attract Chinese tourists back.
It is estimated that Italy would welcome about 2 million tourists this year, making it one of the most alluring tourist destinations in Europe.
In the first half of this year, Italy's embassy and consulates in China handled more than 50,000 visa applications, or 40 percent of that during the same period in 2019.
Italy has fully resumed visa services and the demand for tourist visas keeps growing.
The target is that the number of tourists would recover to that of 2019 and even surpass the figure within 2014, according to ENIT.
"We have seen an increasing number of Chinese tourists in Italy and the flights between the two countries are resuming gradually, which is a delightful sign," said Ivana Jelinic, president and chief executive of ENIT.
"We are working closely with relevant parts on visa applications to simplify relevant procedures," she said.