Time : 14:25: Nov-03, 20

Domestic tourism receives a boost

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People visit the West Lake in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, October 1, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Affluent Chinese tourists chose to travel within the country, rather than abroad, during the eight-day National Day holiday, with customized travel packages and personalized services being the most preferred options, experts said.

"Many big spenders altered their overseas travel plans as they were apprehensive about the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in some countries and regions. Limited access to international flights and cruises was another major deterrent to overseas travel," said Wei Pengju, director of the Institute of Cultural Economics at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing.

"A large number of travelers chose domestic destinations. Luxury travelers opted to spend more on customized travel plans and personalized services for comfortable experiences, an indication that an industry rebound is just around the corner," he said.

According to data from search engine Baidu, a week before the holiday, a time when most people finalize their travel plans, the number of searches for "domestic travel" and "self-driving road trips" surged by 2,374 percent and 18 percent respectively on a yearly basis. On the other hand, searches for "overseas travel", and "travel with agencies" dropped by 59 percent and 23 percent respectively on a yearly basis.

Liu Xinsheng, a tourist from Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, decided to drop her overseas trip at the last moment and opted for a domestic tour.

"I had planned a trip to South Korea with my friends for the holidays. However, I changed the plan after discussions with my parents. We thought it was better to stay in China as the country had made considerable progress in its efforts to rein in the epidemic. Besides, there are a lot of things to see in our homeland," said Liu, who decided to go on a trip to Qinghai province, famous for its scenic high-altitude plateau views.

Demand from affluent travelers has also attracted the attention of travel agencies and related businesses, who have started rolling out more high-end plans and services.

According to data from travel booking platform Ctrip, its offline store in Chongqing made a booking for an eight-day luxury travel plan in Northwest China worth 15,000 yuan ($2,209) per person for four people, according to Jiemian.com, a news website. The price was much higher than the average 3,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan per person for the same place or similar destinations.

Another offline store in Hangzhou made a travel plan to Sanya, Hainan province, for 37 travelers, involving a spending of 350,000 yuan. A travel plan to Sanya made by an offline Traveling Bestone store in Shanxi for six adults and two children cost travelers nearly 70,000 yuan, according to Jiemian.

"Aside from the rising number of high-end travel plans and services in the market, other changes that the COVID-19 epidemic has brought to the industry include more road trips by private cars and recreation vehicles to avoid public contagion and increasing need for good quality accommodation services due to hygiene concerns," said Wei.

Data from Baidu showed that a week before the holidays, searches for "restaurants" increased by 30 percent on a yearly basis, much higher than "homestay services".