The weeklong National Day holiday, which falls every year on October 1, is the most popular holiday for Chinese consumers and travellers. In the 2019 Golden Week, domestic tourists spent over a quarter more than they did during Chinese New Year prior to the pandemic – CNY 650 billion (USD 91 billion).
However, during 2022’s Golden Week holiday, Mainland China domestic tourism sales plunged to USD 40 billion, less than half of what they were prior to the pandemic. This year, domestic tourists have been scared off and discouraged by Beijing’s evermore rigorous zero-Covid policies.While the sector drives nearly 30 percent of Chinese consumption, wealthier regions might benefit from shoppers who stayed put.
Approximately 80,000 tourists were left stranded on Hainan, the country’s answer to Hawaii, after an outbreak in August. Xishuangbanna, a popular Chinese tourist destination bordering Laos and Myanmar, went into sudden lockdown last week after 27 cases of Covid-19 were discovered. In total, domestic trips during Golden Week decreased 18 percent from last year to just 422 million, as armed local officials and police prevented travellers from boarding their flights.
According to Trip.com, short-distance local travel made up 65 percent of China’s tourism market in the first seven days of October, with per capita spending up 30 percent. As a result, wealthier metropolises with their own attractions benefitted. In Shanghai, for example, Haichang Ocean Park saw a 15 percent increase in visitors, reaching 90 percent of 2019 levels.
Even online platforms such as food delivery giant, Meituan, recorded a big boost from users spending locally over the Golden Week. During the first five days of Golden Week, over 77 percent of consumer spending on Meituan occurred locally, with average daily local spending up 52 percent over last year.
At this rate, even a week of staycations won’t be enough to counter the slump in domestic tourism, which was almost 10 percent of pre-pandemic GDP, and a contracting service sector.
According to data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on October 7, Chinese domestic tourism revenue totaled CNY 287 billion (USD 40 billion) over the Golden Week holiday. This concludes a drop of 26 percent from 2021.