Domestic travel set to bounce back thanks to special offers from firms
Domestic tourism is expected to see an upswing in the upcoming May Day holiday thanks to the government's effective prevention and control measures against COVID-19 and special offers from travel agencies.
Hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, the tourism sector is facing great challenges with domestic visits projected to fall by 932 million during the year－a decrease of 15.5 percent compared with 2019.
However, it's in the process of recovery after authorities took measures to stimulate the market, but this will still take time.
In the coming five-day break starting from May 1, the domestic tourism market is expected to witness the year's first travel boom, according to a report by Trip.com Group, an online travel agency headquartered in Shanghai.
It said that domestic travel will be double that of the Tomb Sweeping holiday in early April, with short-distance tours being the most popular option among travelers as the outbound sector is severely hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Data cited from Lvmama, another travel agency based in Shanghai, shows that travel combos including tickets to tourist attractions and stays in hotels are the most popular on its platforms.
According to Trip.com Group, self-guided tours by rental car have registered the fastest recovery due to travelers' demand for flexible travel schedules, cleanliness and privacy. It said that orders for rental cars on its platform were 70 percent of those in the same period last year.
Cheaper flight tickets are also driving the tourism sector, according to Qunar, an online travel service provider in Beijing.
It said that the prices of some hot domestic flights are 30 or even 60 percent lower year-on-year during the May Day holiday than that in the previous year. For example, the average price of flights from Beijing to Shanghai is 478 yuan ($68) over the break, a decrease of 29.6 percent from 679 yuan in the same period last year.
Ge Lanxiang, vice-president of Qunar, said that the price of domestic flight tickets will be at its lowest during the holiday than in the past five years.
But strengthening prevention against COVID-19 remains the priority. In early April, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, jointly with the National Health Commission, released a notice requiring attractions to receive 30 percent of their maximum visitor capacity to prevent mass gatherings.
For example, the culture and tourism department of Hubei province issued a notice on Saturday, requiring travelers to make reservations before visits to some reopened attractions.
Also, the department will publish the maximum visitor capacity of every reopening A-rated scenic spot and send officials to cities and counties to supervise control and prevention work against COVID-19 during the holiday.
Meanwhile, a number of provinces and cities have announced different policies concerning travel during the holiday. Some cities such as Zhengzhou and Zhoukou in Henan province asked certain groups of people such as students not to travel outside the city during the holiday to reduce the possibility of getting infected.