Holiday consumption boom mirrors vitality, potential of Chinese economy
Chinese residents' fervor for travel and leisure over the eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday has reflected the country's strong consumption demand.
From top domestic destinations such as Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, to cities in the northwest like Urumqi in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, resorts across the country were flooded by visitors during the holiday.
Experts say the bustling scenes demonstrate the vitality and potential of China's consumer market, which will help boost economic recovery and strength.
Travel and consumption frenzy
The National Day holiday, dubbed "golden week" by the Chinese, normally runs for seven days, but this year, it was linked with the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival and extended to eight days, lasting from September 29 to October 6. A longer holiday rekindles people's enthusiasm to travel, especially after the removal of travel restrictions seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, and enables them to engage in various leisure activities.
More than 395 million trips to tourist sites were made in the first three days of the holiday, up 75.8 percent year on year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The total revenue of the tourism sector increased by 125.3 percent to 342.24 billion yuan (47.67 billion US dollars) in the three days, said the ministry.
In southwest China's Sichuan Province, over 29 million trips were made in the first six days of the holiday, skyrocketing 202 percent compared with the same period last year.
Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, is hosting the 19th Asian Games and thus drawing many tourists aiming for both its picturesque West Lake and sports games. As of Wednesday, the ticket revenue of the Games has exceeded 600 million yuan.
The booming tourism has driven the high demand for flights and train tickets, hotel rooms, catering, and retail sales.
Latest data shows that more than 52 million trips were made by rail, highway, water, and civil aviation every day during the holiday, posting a year-on-year increase of over 50 percent.
In addition to major scenic spots, the duty-free shops in south China's island province of Hainan are also benefiting from the tourism spree. The capital city, Haikou, recorded total offshore duty-free sales of 1.01 billion yuan in the first six days of the holiday, surging 94.2 percent year on year.
Those who do not travel far during the holiday are not idle at home. They went to cinemas, pushing the national box office to exceed 2.5 billion yuan. E-commerce platforms, coffee chains, and supermarkets are luring them with attractive discounts and coupons, further boosting consumption.
According to the online platform Meituan, the average daily spending on service retail sales soared 153 percent compared with the same period in 2019, making this year's "golden week" the hottest one in the past five years.
The booming holiday economy, enhanced consumer market confidence, and record high spending further strengthened the role of consumption as a primary engine for economic growth, said Li Jiwei, deputy dean of Meituan Research Institute.
Boost growth both at home and abroad
Experts say that the bustling and vibrant holiday season is poised to accelerate China's economic growth.
Chen Li, chief economist of Chuancai Securities, expects the consumption market to pick up at a faster clip in the fourth quarter of the year, partly boosted by the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday, as well as the upcoming "Double 11" online shopping festival.
China's holiday economy and consumer sector shine during the "golden week," which has also nailed down the general tone of stability for China's economic development in the second half of the year, said Pan Helin, a researcher at the International Business School of Zhejiang University.
Citigroup Inc. on Wednesday raised its growth forecast for China to 5 percent this year, as promising data helps build consensus around the nation's ability to achieve its official government target.
Retail sales and industrial production may also improve, the economists from Citigroup said in a report.
Not only is there a boom in domestic tourism, but the holiday traveling spree has also extended across the border.
It was the first long holiday since travel agencies in China resumed providing group tours to a longer list of countries and regions in August. The visa exemption given to Chinese tourists by countries like Thailand has also driven a significant increase in international travel from China.
Trip.com, a Chinese online travel agency, said in a report that the outbound tourism market has witnessed remarkable growth, with bookings skyrocketing nearly 20 times compared to the previous year.
Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Britain were among the most popular destinations for Chinese travelers, according to the agency.
Analysts say hundreds of millions of Chinese travelers will boost industries related to their local tourism and shopping, which is for sure a boon for global economic growth.