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Holiday to see pickup in outbound travel

Updated: 2024-04-02 09:07 ( China Daily )
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Tourists visit the Merlion Park in Singapore on Dec 21, 2023. The mutual visa-exemption agreement between China and Singapore, effective from Feb 9, 2024, is set to further boost people-to-people exchanges. XINHUA

The ongoing recovery in China's outbound tourism sector is expected to pick up steam during the upcoming Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, thanks to eased visa policies for Chinese visitors and the resumption of international flights, according to Airbnb.

Data from the US-based lodging and short-term vacation rental provider show that the number of Chinese mainland users searching for outbound stays with check-in dates between March 30 and April 7 surged more than 2.5-fold year-on-year, while their searches for tourist destinations in the Asia-Pacific region jumped 3.5 times on a yearly basis.

For Chinese travelers, the most popular overseas destinations during the spring season are Japan, New Zealand, the United States, Italy, France, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Australia and Spain, Airbnb said.

Moreover, the number of Chinese mainland users who booked outbound stays during the Spring Festival holiday in February surged more than sevenfold, compared with the same period of last year.

China's outbound tourism market has witnessed a steady recovery since the Spring Festival holiday, showcasing an upward trajectory, said Kong Zhiqiu, director of Airbnb China for outbound business.

Kong said that he is upbeat about the growth prospects of China's outbound tourism, which has been an important engine of growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to Airbnb, outbound travel has gained in popularity among Generation Z travelers during the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday.

Gen Z refers to those born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s.

The number of room searchers between the ages of 18 and 24 has seen rapid growth in China. Moreover, the number of group tours consisting of more than three people has grown more than fourfold year-on-year for the approaching holiday.

It has been encouraging to see China outbound travel gathering additional momentum in the Asia-Pacific region, said Dave Stephenson, chief business officer and head of employee experience at Airbnb, in an earnings call in February.

The company said it expects China outbound travel to be above 2019 levels by the end of the year.

China saw outbound passenger trips exceed 87 million last year, and this is projected to reach 130 million in 2024, according to a report published by the China Tourism Academy.

Japan has become a popular destination for young Chinese travelers seeking the beauty of gentle spring breezes and fluttering cherry blossoms, as the search volumes from Gen Z users for stays in Japan on the Airbnb platform since early spring have skyrocketed over sevenfold year-on-year, with Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto increasingly favored by Chinese youth.

Southeast Asian countries, particularly those with visa-free policies for Chinese nationals, have emerged as red-hot destinations. Moreover, Chinese tourists have shown a rising interest in mid-to-long haul destinations such as Europe and New Zealand.

Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said the nation's outbound trip segment is expected to see a robust recovery and inject strong impetus into the country's tourism sector this year.

With the steady rebound of the outbound tourism market, people are showing increased demand for short-term home rentals and homestay services, which are now wide-ranging to satisfy the needs of various types of tourists, said Lai Zhen, an analyst at market research company iResearch.

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