Published on: October 10, 2023
China’s ongoing Golden Week is shaping up to be one of the busiest holidays ever—and reflects the resilience of Chinese consumers.
The eight-day holiday period, which encompasses the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day, kicked off last Friday—and the early data shows a massive surge in consumer spending.
In the festival’s first three days, there were 395 million domestic trips, up 76% from last year. Tourism revenue hit US $47 billion, an increase of 125% from last year. On Friday alone, there were over 20 million railway trips, while the Ministry of Transport reported a record-high 66 million vehicles on highways. Tourist sites across the country are packed.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that they expect a whopping 896 million domestic trips by the end of the week, which is up 15% from 2019. They also projected that tourism spending would hit US$109 billion, a 20% increase from pre-pandemic levels.
That data is backed up by companies in the travel sector. Alibaba Group’s travel platform Fliggy reported double-digit growth in travel bookings from 2019, while Meituan reported over 100% growth in restaurant bookings. Malls are reporting massive increases in sales.
There’s also a significant appetite for international travel. International flight capacity is still down around 50% from 2019, and fares are higher due to limited capacity. That’s leading consumers to choose closer international destinations—travel to North America is still down, but countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and South Korea are actually expecting more Chinese tourists this week than Golden Week in 2019.
The record-setting holiday period follows a summer where air and railway traffic surpassed pre-pandemic levels, as consumers continue to show an eagerness to travel in the wake of Covid restrictions being lifted.
The strong tourism performance might seem confusing given the macroeconomic challenges China is facing. But there is still enormous appetite among consumers to spend on products and services that improve their lifestyles and facilitate self-expression, whether that be a vacation or a new pair of Nike sneakers.
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