China’s Mid-Autumn Festival travel, tourism tumbles under zero-Covid, National Day holiday ‘will be even worse’
- Number of domestic tourism trips taken during the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday fell by 16.7 per cent, while revenues fell by 22.8 per cent
- Travel industry has long been under pressure from the coronavirus, with activity during the week-long National Day holiday in the first week of October set to be subdued
A resurgence of coronavirus cases and tightened travel restrictions weighed on China’s travel industry during the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, with the sector set to remain under pressure for the remainder of the year, analysts said.
The number of domestic tourism trips taken during the holiday between Saturday and Monday fell by 16.7 per cent to 73.4 million compared to a year earlier, while revenues fell by 22.8 per cent to 28.68 billion yuan (US$4.1 billion), according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
The number of trips and revenue was also down by 27.4 per cent and 39.4 per cent, respectively, compared with the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Until the end of October, tourists in China are required to provide a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours of travelling. The tighter rules have been in place since September 10.
“The [coronavirus rules are] likely to be either extended or reintroduced afterwards, we believe travel for family gatherings, tourism and retail sales will be severely hit in coming months,” Nomura economists led by Lu Ting said on Tuesday.
“We maintain our view that the zero-Covid strategy may continue following the 20th party congress in October.”
Tourists have been urged to stay close to home and avoid unnecessary trips during the Mid-Autumn Festival and also the week-long National Day holiday in the first week of October.
“The travel market during the National Day holiday will be even worse,” said Liu Jianbin, CEO of travel agency Shangchuangba. “Each region will likely double down on Covid control measures.”
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, trips by road fell by 36.3 per cent to 48.76 million, while journeys by boat fell by 21 per cent to 1.43 million.
People also took 1.28 million trips within China by air over the three days, down nearly 60 per cent compared to the same holiday last year.
Box office sales also fell during the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday as revenues reached 373 million yuan (US$53.8 million) as of Monday night, representing a 25 per cent fall from 499 million during the same period last year, according to box office data service Beacon.
China’s seven-day National Day holiday starts on October 1 and represents the last break for the remainder of 2022, but rising coronavirus cases across the country are unlikely to fall in the near future, which could suppress the travel industry until the end of the year.
“A few factors are compounding the travel market, including the tightening of policies and the rising cases,” said Zhou Mingqi, founder of tourism consultancy firm Jingjian Consulting.
“Public servants and employees of state-owned companies, students and teachers will not likely be allowed to travel during the National Day holiday, and there is no other travel season for the rest of the year.”