Cultural events act as tourist magnets

Updated: May 6, 2024 By Yang Feiyue in Beijing and Li Xiaoyun in Hong Kong China Daily Print
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Tourists from the Chinese mainland flock to the Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, on Thursday. [ANDY CHONG/CHINA DAILY]

Destinations across the country have increased the supply of cultural and tourism products and created new experiences to satisfy the wanderlust of travelers during the five-day May Day holiday.

In downtown Changsha, the capital of Central China's Hunan province, a fair highlighting folk customs has been packed with visitors since Wednesday, the start of the holiday period, which ends on Sunday.

"We expect to receive around 20,000 visitors per day during the May Day holiday," said Peng Yating, who is in charge of the fair's operations.

Covering an area of 3,000 square meters, the fair offers experiences of traditional sachet and ancient currency making, hanfu wearing and tea drinking rituals.

Chinese traditional intangible cultural heritage and China chic elements are becoming increasingly popular with visitors, Peng added.

Changsha witnessed 3.92 million subway passengers on May 1, which is a record high, according to local authorities.

In Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, reality shows are being staged at the Wuhou Shrine Museum to give visitors a vicarious experience of the Three Kingdom period (220-280).

Multiple exhibitions have also been arranged to give visitors a panoramic view of the culture during that period, said Li Zhi, a staff member at the museum.

The preparations are aimed at spicing up the travel experience, allowing visitors to immerse in the beauty of traditional culture, Li added.

Museums, theme parks and mountain resorts are popular among May Day holiday visitors, according to online travel agency Trip.com Group.

On the first day of the holiday period, bookings for museums increased 31 percent compared with the same period last year, with the National Museum of China, Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum and the Palace Museum topping the list of favorites.

Bookings for mountainous scenic spots surged 50 percent year-on-year, with Huashan Mountain in Shaanxi province and Laojun Mountain in Henan province being the most popular among travelers.

Big cities remain a major draw for travelers. More than 90 percent of hotel rooms in Hong Kong have been booked, while major attractions achieved expected consumption as the city recorded 876,000 visits during the first two days of the holiday, with 40 percent of visitors arriving from the Chinese mainland alone.

Timothy Chui Ting-pong, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Association, said that even before the start of the May Day holiday period, the overall booking rate of hotels in Hong Kong reached 80 to 90 percent.

Boutique hotels in the city were operating at near-full capacity on Wednesday, he added.

Hotels at the Hong Kong Disney-land Resort are also popular among tourists. Ninety-five percent of the resort's three hotels have been reserved for the holiday period, a spokesperson for the attraction said.

"We can see strong park attendance trending toward the weekend, or the last two days of the holiday," the spokesperson added.

Ocean Park Hong Kong unveiled an array of new products to cater to the surge of visitors. Ivan Wong Chifai, chief executive of Ocean Park Corp, said the number of visitors recorded at both the theme park and the water park "are in line with our expectations".

Alan Chan Chung-yee, chief operations officer of Miramar Group, said a significant number of walk-in guests on Wednesday boosted the occupancy rate of its hotels to 93 percent.

According to Trip.com, Hong Kong ranked as one of the top three most popular overseas travel destinations during the holiday.

The number of bookings for travel to Hong Kong grew 51 percent compared with the same period in 2023, with Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Hong Kong Palace Museum, and the Observation Wheel among the most popular attractions, data from the travel platform showed.

The growth rate of tourism spending in most of the country's third — and fourth-tier cities and county-level destinations have surpassed that of first — and second-tier cities, data from Trip.com showed.

Hotels and scenic spots bookings in third — and fourth-tier cities and county-level destinations have increased 60 percent and 200 percent, respectively, according to the travel agency.

Wang Yalei, an analyst from the research center of Trip.com, said that first — and second-tier cities have always been popular tourist destinations.

Many scenic spots across the country have implemented measures such as putting a cap on the number of visitors, extending operating hours and selling night tickets to cope with the heavy tourist influx.

Overcrowding is quite common during holidays, Wang said, noting that it reached its peak during the May Day holiday last year.

"In contrast, this year's May Day holiday period is seeing a stronger public demand for pursuing niche experiences instead of visiting crowded attractions," he said.

The prosperity of county-level tourism markets means an expansion of the tourist population and a greater diversification of tourist destinations, making the foundation of the Chinese tourism market even stronger, he added.

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