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China’s Domestic Tourism is Finally Back to Pre-pandemic Levels

October 16, 2023

CHINA — Official estimates show that domestic tourism in China recovered to approximately pre-pandemic levels during the country’s popular “Golden Week” holiday, but abroad travel had not entirely recovered.

These figures for the eight-day break, which concluded on Friday, were also less than anticipated by the administration.

According to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, domestic tourism earnings during Golden Week amounted to 753.43 billion yuan ($103.24 billion), a 1.5% rise over the same period in 2019. During the most recent eight-day holiday, there were 826 million domestic tourist journeys, up 4.1% from 2019, according to the ministry.

Both numbers were less than the 896 million trips and 782.5 billion yuan in domestic tourist earnings that the Chinese state media had earlier reported the ministry had predicted.

In a report published on Friday, Morgan Stanley’s Chief China Economist Robin Xing and colleagues noted that despite the termination of China’s COVID-19 limitations late last year, the final tourism revenue total nevertheless represented a return to 2019 levels.

They also said that per-person spending had recovered to 98% of 2019 levels, which was significantly higher than the 85% amount recorded during the previous year’s holidays.

According to Morgan Stanley analysts, “this is likely due to an extra-long Golden Week holiday (eight days vs. seven usually), which encouraged long-distance travel and boosted average spending.”

The Oct. 1 National Holiday and the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival were close enough this year for Beijing to announce an eight-day holiday, which officially runs from Friday, Sept. 29, to Friday, Oct. 6, marking this year’s Golden Week.

That meant that although some businesses did not resume work until Monday, the following Saturday and Sunday were technically working days.

The week-long break also meant that more people chose to travel abroad in a nation where companies often only offer a few paid vacation days.

During the holiday, the National Immigration Administration counted approximately 11.8 million journeys into and out of mainland China, or an average of nearly 1.5 million trips each day, which represents 85.1% of 2019 levels.

Additionally, that was less than the initial projections made by state media, which called for about 1.6 million crossings of the border each day.

According to the Chinese travel booking website Group, outbound travel during the Christmas season increased by more than eight times compared to the same period last year, with nearly 30% of travellers being in their mid-20s to early 30s.

According to, the top travel destinations were South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Regarding China’s Labor Day holiday in May, it was observed that the countries with the biggest rise in tourism were Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and France. did not offer any 2019 comparisons. CEO Jane Sun previously told CNBC’s Eunice Yoon that people in China aren’t travelling abroad as much as they would like to because of lengthy wait times for visa applications, which can range from two to six months for a visit to Europe.

The increase in Chinese travel coincides with a slowdown in the nation’s financial recovery, which has been exacerbated in part by a collapse in the real estate market.

In a note published on Sunday, Goldman Sachs analysts stated, “The National Day golden week tourism data, along with the still above-50 September services [purchasing managers indexes], suggest the services recovery has decelerated but continues.”

“Considering the ongoing property downturn and still-dampened confidence, we believe additional policy easing will be necessary for further recovery in consumption and services,” the report stated.

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