Chinese people embrace long-distance travel as epidemic wanes

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People enjoy a light show at the Bund in Shanghai, east China, Sept. 30, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

BEIJING, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- On the first day of an eight-day holiday in China, railway passenger trips were at their highest level since the COVID-19 outbreak. Many people were taking their first long-distance tourist journeys this year.

National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival this year overlapped, leading to a combined eight-day holiday starting from Thursday. It is the first national holiday since the country resumed trans-provincial group tours in July.

Data from Airbnb showed that China's long-distance travel would see robust growth over this holiday compared with the five-day May Day holiday.

As this holiday is particularly long, people have shown a strong interest in traveling, said Dai Bin, director of the China Tourism Academy.

Booking data has shown a larger proportion of travels over 800 km, with a noted increase in journeys longer than 1,600 km, said Airbnb, citing a surging search volume for trips from Shanghai to Hainan's resort city of Sanya.

According to a report issued on Sept. 22 by the Meituan Research Institute, about 30 percent of tourist site ticket orders in the first half of September was made by trans-provincial travelers.

Tourists are showing a stronger willingness to make long-distance journeys, the report said.

Online travel agency Tuniu said long-distance journeys to the northwest and southwest parts of the country became "hot sellers."

The popularity of travel to northwest China has soared in particular, according to a survey conducted by online travel agency Group. It showed car rentals had also increased notably, with over half of all orders during the holiday coming from new users.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, many tourists have turned to recreational vehicles (RVs) for more private and secure tours.

Increased numbers of people took to renting RVs during the epidemic, and orders have increased by 10 percent, according to the China Tourism Academy.

Data from China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) showed that 75.72 percent of the country's travel agencies had resumed operations by mid-September, with 91 percent of star-rated hotels reopened.

As the tourism market gets back on track, authorities have warned of epidemic risks ahead of the national holiday, demanding regular COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

The MCT called on tourists to research COVID-19 prevention measures required by tourist attractions in advance, maintain a safe distance when taking public transportation, and make appointments before visits. Enditem