Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday

Hu Min
Shanghai tourism returns to pre-COVID levels, with 15 million tourists excited to enjoy a number of events and activities throughout the city's five-day holiday.
Hu Min
Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

Shanghai Oriental Land is packed with visitors during the holiday.

Shanghai recorded over 15 million visits from tourists during the five-day May Day holiday, reaping in a tourism revenue of 18.897 billion yuan, and reflecting a robust tourism recovery following the end of pandemic curbs late last year.

Major tourist attractions across the city received 6.38 million visits during the holiday, equalling that of the same period in 2019, according to the Shanghai Administration of Culture and Tourism.

The average occupancy rate of hotels in Shanghai hit 71 percent, up 12 percentage points from the same period in 2019.

In total, about 300 major cultural and tourism activities and products were launched during the holiday, enriching the holiday travel experience of residents and tourists, the administration said.

Twelve music events such as the iconic Strawberry Music Festival brought in about 72 million yuan (US$10.4 million) at the box office during the holiday.

A number of events integrated culture and tourism, like the Shanghai Longhua Temple Fair, an intangible cultural heritage event, recording nearly 70,000 visitors.

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

The 2023 Longhua Temple Fair proves to be a popular option during the holiday.

The holiday also featured a number of exhibitions, including "Botticelli to Van Gogh: Masterpieces from the National Gallery" held at the Shanghai Museum. A number of artists from the Yangtze River Delta region were also showcased at the Shanghai History Museum, giving residents and tourists a great way to enjoy the holiday.

Other events included music, coffee culture, camping and night tours at Columbia Circle, the Anyi Road night fair, as well as the BFC and Shanghai Expo Culture Park.

Shanghai's rural tourist attractions also prepared a raft of activities from cruises to intangible cultural heritage, camping activities and firework shows, attracting large crowds.

Tourist attractions, shopping malls and restaurants in the city were packed with visitors, reminiscent of the pre-COVID holiday travel rush.

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

The Strawberry Music Festival 2023 during the holiday is crowded with fans.

Li Hua, a traveler from Nanjing, traveled to the Shanghai Disney Resort with his wife and daughter during the holiday.

"On average, it took two hours of queuing for every attraction. It was also pretty tough to find a good place to watch the fireworks," he said. "When we left the resort, the line-up for a taxi was huge, so we took the subway instead. But the train was also very crowded."

At the same time, Mandy Zhang, a Shanghai resident, visited Shanghai Panlong Tiandi, which had just opened during the holiday, turning an ancient Jiangnan (regions in the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) watertown into a modern urban retreat.

"To my surprise, rain failed to dampen visitors as I queued for over an hour to have a bowl of mixian (rice noodle), and then spent another 30 minutes for a cup of milk tea," Zhang said.

"But it was still nice to see that the long-lost travel boom is back," she added.

The lifestyle and commercial complex received more than 500,000 visits in the first three days of the holiday.

"When the passenger flow hits 10,000, the number of visitors on the seven bridges in Panlong Tiandi will be temporarily capped," said Zhang Wei, a policeman at the Xujing Police Station.

At the Chenshan Botanical Garden where the 2023 Shanghai Rose Exhibition opened during the holiday, tourist Wang Zhen who came with her friends found there was almost no place to pitch her tent.

"There were people everywhere, and we needed to queue for toilets, meals and even a photo," Wang said.

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

A bloom of roses at the Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden during the holiday

The Shanghai Zoo recorded over 42,000 visits on both the second and third day of the holiday with people eager to see the panda Ya Ya.

Ya Ya, the giant panda who had spent 20 years at the Memphis Zoo in the United States, was back on home soil on Thursday after a 16-hour-long flight to Shanghai.

She's spending one month in an air-conditioned quarantine area at the zoo.

"I want to see Ya Ya," said 11-year-old Huang Jinxuan, from Guangdong Province.

Shanghai's fashionable Suzhou Creek cruise tour has a new stop on offer, as the Zhongshan Park Wharf in Changning District went into operation during the holiday, offering a new tour option for residents and tourists.

The new itinerary combines a walk on the riverside path along the Suzhou Creek and a sightseeing cruise.

It brought the total number of wharfs servicing the Suzhou Creek cruise tour to five. The others are Changfeng Park, Changhua Road, Waitanyuan (the origin of the Bund) and Sihang Warehouse.

"I've been waiting for this day for a long time," said a retiree surnamed Gong who enjoyed a cruise on the creek.

"The ship sails stably, and the journey is comfortable," Gong said. "I enjoyed a cheerful mood and I was attracted by the beautiful scenery."

Gong has lived near the Zhongshan Park Wharf for 40 years.

"In the past, the water in the creek was black and smelled awful. We couldn't open the windows because the smell would blow over," Gong said. "The place where the pier is located was once inaccessible as it was filled with sludge."

"The river course is clean with a fresh smell now."

The catering industry also enjoyed a booming business during the holiday.

China's hotpot chain restaurant Haidilao said its outlets in Shanghai received over 230,000 diners in the first three days of the holiday, and its number of diners at popular tourist destinations such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou grew nearly 40 percent on average from the same period last year.

Rattan pepper flavored shredded beef, bullfrog, beef paste, and matcha coconut drink served by the restaurant were the most popular during the holiday, the hotpot chain said.

Meanwhile, tourists were traveling farther during the holiday, according to travel operators.

Shanghai-based online travel operator said the flying distance of its users, 1,638 kilometers on average during the holiday, hit a four-year high with cross-province hotel orders accounting for more than 70 percent of the total.

The flying distance is almost equal to that from Shanghai to Hohhot, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, it said.

A domestic single-trip air ticket cost 1,211 yuan during the holiday, up 39 percent from the same period in 2019.

Ticket orders of domestic tourist attractions surged 900 percent during the holiday from the same period last year and over 200 percent from that of 2019, according to

Moreover, outbound tourism orders soared nearly 700 percent from the same period last year.

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

People sip coffee at the Shanghai History Museum during the holiday

"The strong desire for long-distance trips from Chinese travelers was released during the holiday, which would boost the recovery of not only the tourism industry, but also transportation, accommodation, entertainment, catering and shopping sectors," said Peng Han, a tourism analyst with

Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Nanjing were among the most popular tourist destinations during the holiday, according to the travel operator.

Travel review website Mafengwo said long-distance and outbound tourism orders accounted for more than 85 percent of the total during the holiday.

Zibo, famous for its iconic barbecue, has become China's latest tourist hotspot with its popularity index surging 605 percent during the holiday, according to Mafengwo.

The barbecue craze has also boosted the popularity of Xichang, Jinzhou, Guiyang, and Xuzhou also famous for barbecue, it said.

Meanwhile, Chinese fans of the Japanese animated sports film "The First Slam Dunk" triggered a travel rush to Kamakura in Japan during the holiday, with avid manga fans flocking to the city to take photos of the Kamakura Kokomae Station, a famous scene in the animation, Mafengwo said.

Lvmama, another Shanghai-based online travel operator, said women showed a higher rate of tourism during the holiday, accounting for 59 percent, with the post-80s generation accounting for 36 percent of the total.

Shanghai Zoo, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, and Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding were among the most popular domestic attractions, it said.

Rural tourism where fun camping activities, music parties, and bazaars were held was a popular option during the holiday, it said.

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

A hanfu performance at the Shanghai Daguanyuan (Grandview Garden)

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

A leisure moment at Shanghai Oriental Land during the holiday

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

Visitors pack the Ultraman-themed pavilion at the Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park.

Shanghai tourism surges over the May Day holiday
Ti Gong

A leisure time at Shanghai Gongqing Forest Park

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