Group tours favorites following pandemic

Hu Min
Holiday dates announcement sparks boom in bookings as early birds plan ahead to ensure a good time next year after many had to cancel this year's plans because of COVID-19.
Hu Min
Group tours favorites following pandemic
Ti Gong

The seven-day Chinese Lunar New Year holiday between February 11 and 17 is expected to boost domestic tourism. 

Early birds are already preparing next year's travel plans following the announcement of China's public holiday calendar.

The holiday dates have sparked a boom in domestic tourism bookings, travel operators said on Thursday.

Bookings for private group tours during the Lunar New Year holiday soared 160 percent from Wednesday night compared with a normal day, said Shanghai-based online travel operator Trip.com.

Private tour groups are gaining in popularity with Chinese tourists after the COVID-19 pandemic as they feature limited numbers of tourists, usually family members or friends.

The Spring Festival holiday will be between February 11 and 17.

Most of those booking private group tours for the break are families with children or senior members, said Trip.com.

Searches for independent tourist itineraries related to the three-day New Year's Day holiday from January 1 to 3 soared 120 percent compared with a normal day, the travel operator said.

Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Chengdu have the largest number of holiday tour bookers.

Beach and skiing resorts remain the most popular winter destinations during Spring Festival, with Sanya, Harbin, Lijiang, Beijing, Chengdu, Guilin, Xishuangbanna, Xi'an and Guangzhou among the most favored.

Online travel operator Tongcheng-Elong said searches for tickets for travel, tourist attractions and other related products had surged 300 percent from normal as of Thursday afternoon.

The May Day holiday will last five days for the second consecutive year.

"It will help boost tourism and small-group tours, and customized tours will be the trend in 2021," said Cheng Chaogong, a researcher with the travel operator.

Travel review website Mafengwo said hot spring and ice and snow tourism were the most favored winter options with recreational vehicles and customized design trips gaining in popularity.

Personalized and diversified tourism demand is the trend, it said.

"I visited Shengsi Island in neighboring Zhejiang Province with my family during the National Day holiday and did not travel far the whole year because of the pandemic, and I am planning a tour to Sanya during the Spring Festival holiday," said Shanghai resident Wu Xiao.

"Because of limited tourism destination options, domestic tourism is popular as seen during this year's National Day holiday," said Zheng Cuifen, another Shanghai resident.

"Early planning is important during travel peak, and I am checking the prices on a trip to Beihai during the Spring Festival holiday," Zheng said.

"Many domestic tourists canceled their travel already booked during this year's Chinese Lunar New Year holiday because of the pandemic, and Spring Festival is traditionally the travel peak for Chinese families," said Peng Liang, a tourism researcher.

"The announcement of the calendar is expected to spur tourism potential," he said.

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