BEIJING – China’s tourism consumption has seen a surge thanks to a bustling New Year holiday travel spree to cultural events, sightseeing as well as ice and snow amusement spots across the country.
On the eve of the New Year, about 140 foreign tourists from countries including Singapore and Malaysia arrived in Shanghai to become the city’s first foreign tourist group for New Year travel.
Li Liangyi, organizer of the group and president of China Express Travel(s) PTE Ltd, said the tour members registered for the group travel trip soon after the Shanghai municipal culture and tourism administration staged a cultural tourism promotion in Singapore in October 2023.
The tourists boarded China’s first domestically-built large cruise ship, Adora Magic City, which departed from the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal on Monday, joining the ship’s maiden commercial voyage after participating in the city’s New Year countdown events, including light shows and intangible cultural heritage activities such as egg-shell carving.
The ship’s maiden voyage is taking passengers to Northeast Asian tourist destinations, including Japan and the Republic of Korea.
China recorded 5.18 million inbound and outbound trips during the three-day New Year holiday, from Dec 30, 2023, to Jan 1, 2024, a 4.7-fold increase compared with the figure for the same period a year earlier and returning to the 2019 level, the National Immigration Administration said Tuesday.
Fang Shizhong, director of the Shanghai municipal culture and tourism administration, said that Shanghai is striving to develop itself into a high-end international travel destination and reinforce its reputation as international tourists’ “first stop” in China.
He said that New Year theme events in Shanghai have been held since 1989, helping the city to pass on cultural traditions such as striking the New Year bell at the Longhua Temple, eating noodles on the countdown to New Year and visiting market fairs.
Cultural tourism also flourished in Beijing during the holiday. The Beijing municipal bureau of cultural heritage said museums in the national capital received 650,000 visitors during the holiday, with a total of 85 exhibitions and cultural activities provided to offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in folk arts, traditional crafts and cultural traditions.
A packed schedule of ice and snow theme activities also unfolded in Beijing around the New Year. Skating rinks and ski resorts in the city and its suburbs were favored by snow and ice sports enthusiasts, sparking some epic memories of the 2022 Winter Games.
In addition, the municipal cultural and tourism department cooperated with online platforms Meituan and Dianping to issue e-coupons to boost tourism consumption. Parks in the city also launched a series of initiatives such as offering discount packages to attract tourists.
According to the research institute of online travel agency Trip.com, snow and ice tourism sites were the most popular destinations, seeing surging numbers of ticket orders.
The Harbin Ice-Snow World, a renowned ice and snow theme park in Harbin, the capital city of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, emerged as a magnet for winter holiday travelers, according to the agency’s report. The tourists are mainly from the big Chinese metropolises of Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing. The number of travel orders via this online booking platform for New Year holiday travel rose 158 percent year-on-year.
In addition to the famed theme park in Harbin, other winter travel destinations for snow and ice amusement and hot spring tours in Chinese cities including Changchun, Baishan, Urumqi, and Zhangjiakou also proved popular.
The report said the number of domestic travel orders for the three-day New Year holiday increased by 168 percent year-on-year, while the amount of international travel orders during this period soared by 388 percent. In terms of tourism consumption categories, such as high-end resort hotels and customized tours, per capita spending of tourists increased across the board to various degrees.
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, predicted that total domestic travel will exceed 6 billion visits in 2024, while domestic tourism revenue is likely to surpass 6 trillion yuan ($839 billion).
The city clusters in the Yangtze River Delta, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Chengdu-Chongqing and other economically active areas will continue to play key roles as the major drivers of tourism development and the ballast stone of the tourism economy, as they are the most important sources of tourists, the leading tourist destinations, and significant transport hubs, Dai added.