Earlier summer travel surge expected this year

Updated: Jun 20, 2024 By Cheng Si China Daily Print
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Chinese tourism agencies are gearing up for an earlier-than-usual summer travel surge, fueled by pent-up demand.

Traditionally, the peak travel season runs from July to August. However, platforms like Tuniu predict the first wave this year will hit as early as late June due to people's growing desire to travel and optimized visa processes.

Long-distance family vacations are the trend, with destinations like the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and overseas locations attracting significant interest. Border regions offer cooler climates and unique cultural experiences, making them popular choices.

Data from Trip.com Group highlights this shift, with summer trip bookings to domestic destinations already significantly exceeding last year's numbers, and overseas bookings nearly doubling. Half the bookings are for family trips.

The drama To the Wonder, showcasing the breathtaking scenery of Xinjiang's Altay region, has given it a boost as a top summer pick. The region's cooler temperatures and exotic cultures make it a welcome escape from scorching heat.

Yang Nan, a human resources professional in the nation's capital, has planned a seven-day family trip to Xinjiang in late July.

International sporting events such as the Paris Olympics and the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Germany are also expected to drive outbound tourism growth.

Other popular overseas destinations include Japan, Thailand and Singapore, with bookings to longer-haul locations in Europe, Central Asia and Africa also on the rise.

Trip.com Group reports a significant increase in visa applications for long-distance destinations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Half of its customers who plan to travel in summer have applied for visas to such destinations so far this year, compared with less than a third last year.

Qunar, another online travel agency, said Euro 2024 is a major draw for European travel.

Bookings for Berlin have surged 400 percent year-on-year, and those for Munich are up 300 percent. Meanwhile, summer travel bookings to Italy, France, Spain and the UK have doubled or tripled.

The tourism industry anticipates a rise in inbound tourism as well, given China's welcoming attitude and relaxed entry policies for international travelers. The recent announcement of a unilateral 15-day visa-free policy for Australian tourists exemplifies this shift.

Trip.com Group reported an 80 percent surge in searches for trips to the Chinese mainland by Australian travelers within 30 minutes of the policy's announcement. Australia is already the fifth-largest source of tourists to China, with trip bookings up 155 percent year-on-year.

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