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Travel agencies brace for upcoming holiday rush

Updated: 2023-09-02 10:25 ( China Daily )
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With the eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday break set for Sept 29 to Oct 6, China Tourism News reports online agencies are being flooded with inquiries regarding domestic travel.

According to data from Tongcheng Travel, domestic flight bookings for the holidays surged by over 40 percent in the seven-day period ending Aug 24, compared to the previous week.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is normally a time of family reunions in China, and Tongcheng predicts the combination of family and tourist visits during the holiday period will result in an average price for domestic flights of over 1,000 yuan ($137.25) while the overall price level will surpass that of the summer vacation. Domestic long-haul travel is also expected to remain popular during the holidays, with some destinations anticipated to experience higher visitor numbers than before the pandemic.

On the international front, since the Aug 10 announcement of the third batch of countries and regions approved for resuming group tours from China, online travel agency Ctrip has launched over 5,000 related products covering more than one-third of the approved destinations.

"The speed of developing and launching products related to the third batch of countries and regions is faster than the previous two batches," said Xiao Yinyuan, general manager of Ctrip's group travel division.

"This is mainly because we established early connections with relevant suppliers and signed cooperation agreements in advance. As a result, we were able to quickly launch the products once we received the news."

According to Tongcheng Travel, during the seven-day period ending Aug 24, international flight bookings for the holidays grew by over 35 percent compared with the previous week.

The countries and regions included in the third batch have also initiated targeted campaigns to attract Chinese tourists. "Just as the northern hemisphere enters the cool autumn, the southern hemisphere is welcoming the spring. We hope to meet you in the beautiful spring of Australia," Tourism Australia said in an invitation to Chinese tourists on its official Sina Weibo account following the country's inclusion.

Finland is also on the list. Zhao Chen, a traveler who recently put down a deposit for a personalized comprehensive tour of the Scandinavian country, said that before the pandemic, his family of six preferred independent travel for trips abroad. However, after three years of being affected by the pandemic, they still lack confidence in outbound tourism

"In such circumstances, finding a travel agency to customize the tour is the safest option," Zhao said. "We also observe which countries have closer interactions with us in terms of tourism. This is one of the key factors to gauge their receptiveness toward us."

Visit Finland recently held an event in Shanghai to showcase the country's tourism offerings, including its beautiful scenery and the hospitality of its people. Chinese tourists and travel industry professionals can access services by Visit Finland through a WeChat mini-program called Finland Travel Assistant.

Cheng Chaogong, chief researcher at the research institute of Tongcheng Travel, said recovery of outbound tourism is expected to peak during the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays, driving up demand for flights and accommodations and leading to higher international ticket prices.

However, it may still take some time for outbound tourism to fully recover as the industry grapples with obstacles such as difficulties in obtaining visas and expensive airfares.

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