DestinationsThe record-breaking 830 million passenger trips this summer are all happening on the domestic front.

It’s boom time for Chinese travel. What’s different this time?

The summer travel market in China this year exceeded the same period in 2019.
The summer travel market in China this year exceeded the same period in 2019. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/xy

While the world awaits the return of travellers from China in bigger and faster numbers, the Chinese population is already travelling in droves again – but much of the action on the domestic front.

China has recently concluded a bustling 62-day summer travel season. with the China State Railway Group reporting a record-breaking 830 million passenger trips on the country's railways between 1 July to 31 August.

This figure surpassed the 735 million trips recorded during the same period in 2019 and was nearly double the 440 million recorded in 2022. The railways witnessed a peak of 15.7 million passenger trips in a single day during this period.

To accommodate the surging travel demand, China's railways maximised their transportation capacity, increasing the number of daily passenger trains to 10,269, up from 8,959 in 2019. Cross-border railway passenger flows also rose, with the China-Laos Railway handling 26,000 passenger trips during the summer season.

These passenger statistics indicate the robust recovery of China's tourism sector and its overall economic activity. Domestic tourist trips this summer exceeded 1.8 billion, generating a total tourism revenue of 1.21 trillion yuan (US$166 billion), as reported by the China Tourism Academy.

The summer travel market in China this year exceeded the same period in 2019, with popular destinations experiencing record-high tourist numbers. Air ticket bookings to domestic cities increased by 40%, while hotel bookings surged by 140%.

Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, described this as the hottest summer travel market in the last five years, driven by pent-up demand and supportive policies for the tourism sector. Tourism has become a bright spot in China's ongoing economic recovery, with GDP growth rising from 4.5% in the first quarter to 6.3% in the second quarter.

Recognising the importance of tourism in boosting domestic demand and sustaining economic recovery, China has prioritised the sector in its plans. In a 20-point initiative unveiled in late July to stimulate consumer spending, the country's top economic planner committed to implementing favourable cultural and tourism consumption measures, promoting rural tourism, and increasing financial support for the tourism sector.

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