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Consumer spending up during national holiday

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Chinese consumers appear to be spending more money during the National Day holiday than last year.

On the first two days of the eight-day holiday, Chinese consumers spent 628 billion yuan ($92.6 billion) by UnionPay card, up 11.8 percent year-on-year, according to UnionPay.

On National Day, Oct 1, which overlapped with the Mid-Autumn Festival this year, transaction volume recorded by UnionPay reached 330 billion yuan, up 15.5 percent on a yearly basis, it found.

“With the recovery of tourists’ confidence, higher travel demand will be activated in the country. Trips to western China, island tours, and tailored road trips are expected to become important forces that help the recovery of the tourism sector after COVID-19,” said Gou Zhipeng, president of Qunar, a Beijing-based online travel agency.

The rare extended National Day holiday has been the longest public vacation since the outbreak of the virus earlier this year. Longdistance trips and tours of western parts of China have seen growing popularity.

The Tibet autonomous region, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Ningxia Hui autonomous region were the areas that saw the fastest growth of spending on a yearly basis in the first two days, the UnionPay data found.

“With vast land and lower population density, western China fits with the psychology of tourists to avoid crowds in the post-epidemic period,” said Zhang Jinshan, a tourism industry professor at Beijing Union University.

“In recent years, the National Day holidays were often peak periods for international trips. Due to the pandemic this year, Chinese tourists chose long-distance domestic trips instead, and it helped the western region to gain popularity,” Zhang said.

On the first two days of the eight-day holiday, tourists’ spending volume on hotels in Tibet more than doubled year-on-year, while spending on catering grew 49 percent.

In Xinjiang, the amount spent on flight tickets tripled, and spending on admission tickets for sightseeing spots in Ningxia increased by 20 percent, according to UnionPay.

Meanwhile, Chinese consumers have shown continued enthusiasm for the Shanghai Disneyland theme park. For bed-and-breakfast homestays within 3 kilometers of the park, their average price was higher than 1,000 yuan per night during the holiday, Qunar found.

About 550 million people are forecast to take domestic trips during the holiday, about 70 percent of the level seen last year, according to an earlier estimate by China Tourism Academy.

With half of the holiday over, some flight tickets and hotels have reduced prices. For instance, on Oct 5, a one-way flight from Beijing to Lijiang, Yunnan province, was 396 yuan. A one-way flight from Beijing to Sanya, Hainan province, was selling for 445 yuan. Prices of flights from Shanghai to some top domestic tourism destinations also dropped, according to Qunar.

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