10pc surge in travellers over 'golden week'
The number of National Day 'golden week' tourists surged almost 10 per cent this year, generating a double-digit increase in tourism revenue.
According to the National Tourism Administration (NTA) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 146 million domestic travellers were on the move during the holiday, which ended on Sunday, up 9.6 per cent compared with last year.
The increase raised revenue 14.8 per cent year on year to a record 64.2 billion yuan, meaning each tourist spent an average of 441 yuan.
The administration said the number of people choosing destinations close to home was on the rise and the number of people who drove their cars to holiday spots rose several fold. The 'golden week' holiday was introduced in 1999 by then-premier Zhu Rongji to bolster consumer spending during an economic slump.
There have been calls for the week-long holidays - which fall three times a year on Lunar New Year, the May 1 Labour Day holiday and National Day - to be scrapped because of concerns about the resulting traffic congestion, crowds at scenic attractions and difficulty in getting tickets and accommodation. But the system has stayed in place and records continue to be set for passenger numbers and revenue.
Liu Deqian , deputy director of the China Academy of Social Sciences' Tourism Research Centre, said he expected the records would be broken repeatedly for at least a few more years. 'The most important thing about the golden week holiday is that urban residents can have a comparatively longer holiday at their disposal and they are more and more willing to use the break to travel, visit friends, shop or meet up with friends,' Professor Liu said.
'All these activities mean spending. And when the economy is good, people spend a lot on buying property or stocks, but they are especially willing to spend a little more money to enjoy life.'
According to NBS data, the average urban resident's income in the first half of the year rose 14.2 per cent year on year to 7,052 yuan.
Professor Liu said the 441 yuan in average holiday spending suggested that most people chose one-day or short trips, a conclusion supported by an NTA report that the number of travellers choosing getaways to nearby destinations was on the rise.
But he also expected average spending would rise and more people would make longer trips or even travel overseas.
'It took about 10 years for the number of mainlanders making overseas trips to reach 10 million but three years to reach the second 10 million. The figure is rising fast.'