China’s rural tourism is taking the lead in boosting the recovery of the tourism market as a whole despite the negative impact brought by the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the epidemic is gradually brought under control, rural tours and short trips will recover first, said Song Rui, director of the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Latest statistics from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs showed that over 60 percent of the leisure tourism sector in China’s rural areas have resumed business since April, and the figure hit 80 percent in the southern part of the country. Meanwhile, rural areas have received 150 million tourists, generating a revenue of 40 billion yuan, which recovered to about 30 percent of the level in the same period last year.
Rural tourism was a popular option for domestic tourists during the May Day holiday which ran from May 1 to May 5, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Rural areas in Beijing saw 666,000 trips made during the holiday, equivalent to 23.2 percent of the level in the same period last year. Revenue generated from the city’s rural tourism market during the period totalled 79 million yuan, about 34.1 percent of that of last year.
In addition, the homestay sector in the countryside has seen rapid growth. According to statistics from the Department of Culture and Tourism of Hunan province in central China, about 100 boutique homestays in the province recorded an occupancy rate of over 80 percent.
Data from tujia.com, a leading homestay booking platform in China, indicated that rural homestay reservations increased by 6 percent during the May Day holiday.
"Rural homestay provides a perfect chance for tourists to learn about the local customs," said a manager from the platform, adding that China has almost resumed all weekend trips, and the homestay market will see accelerated recovery in the rest of the year.
Rural tourism constitutes a vital part of China's tourism market. Last year, rural areas received 3.2 billion tourists, generating a revenue of more than 850 billion yuan.