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Women wearing protective face masks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus walk on a stretch of the Badaling Great Wall of China in Beijing, Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Photo: AP

Record tourist numbers since Covid-19 expected for China’s Labour Day, boosting hopes for domestic tourism recovery

  • The five-day holiday will be the first “mini peak season” this year, according to a report by

China’s hard-hit tourism sector is poised for a gradual recovery and the upcoming Labour Day holiday is expected to see a record number of over 80 million tourists as people try to return to normality after the recent Covid-19 lockdowns.

The five-day holiday will be the first “mini peak season” this year, according to a Tuesday report by Group, China’s largest online travel services provider. It expects double the number of travellers seen during the Ching Ming Festival earlier this month, which recorded 43 million tourists and 8 billion yuan in tourism revenue, according to the China Tourism Academy.

Domestic travel, in particular intra-provincial and local trips, will be the preferred choice for most holidaymakers as restrictions are still in place for travel across provinces or to overseas destinations. Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing are the top 3 destination for holidaymakers during the planned Labour Day break, according to the report by the Nasdaq-listed, formerly known as International.

China’s online travel sites prepare for surge in domestic tourism

Hotel bookings are emerging with “several hundred million yuan” in gross merchandise value, and 55 per cent of bookings have been made with four- and five-star hotels as higher quality trips are in demand amid safety concerns, according to

A total of 4,000 attraction sites will be open for tourists during the May break, a record number since the pandemic, with Taiping National Forest Park in central China's Xi'an city and the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in Beijing among the most popular destinations based on the bookings on

The tourism industry in China has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in lockdowns and travel bans to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Back in February, online travel service providers like were overloaded with customer booking changes, cancellations and refunds.

According to estimates by Beijing-based consultancy Analysys, China’s national tourism economy lost at least 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) a day on average during the outbreak.

In an interview last month’s chairman and CEO James Liang said at its worst, 80 per cent of domestic bookings were being cancelled.

Booking volume on its platform plunged to less than 20 per cent of the level in previous years after the coronavirus outbreak erupted in China in late January, but has now rebounded to over 30 per cent of normal levels in recent weeks for domestic travel bookings, according to the company.

“The beginning of 2020 has been challenging for the travel industry worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak,” Liang said in a post-earnings conference call last month. “We are encouraged to see the successful containment in China … we expect a quick and strong recovery in domestic travel.”

Here’s why Ctrip isn’t worried Meituan took top spot in hotel bookings

Meanwhile, China’s airlines are poised for a bout of “revenge travelling” in coming weeks, as soaring reservations ahead of the annual Labour Day holiday helped them recover 40 per cent of their traffic.

Regional carriers like Guizhou Airlines, Fuzhou Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines’ low-cost unit China United Airlines have added new routes around the country, according to an earlier report by CAAC News, a newspaper run by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). United has added 25 routes, eight of which depart from the new Daxing airport in the Chinese capital.

As China continues to bring the Covid-19 situation under control, local governments have also introduced support policies and cash coupons to encourage consumers to shop and travel more as an attempt to restart the economy.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Record number of tourists seen for Labour Day