China’s cross-border trips during Golden Week holiday recover to 85% of pre-pandemic level

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s inbound and outbound trips surged during the eight-day Golden Week holiday this year, official data showed on Saturday, recovering to 85% of their pre-pandemic level but lower than an earlier government estimate.

The average number of inbound and outbound passenger trips a day reached 1.477 million during the longer-than-normal break, as the Mid-Autumn festival coincided with the National Day holiday this year, which ended on Friday, the National Immigration Administration said.

That was equivalent to 85.1% of the number of average trips made in the same period in 2019, and nearly quadruple the 2022 average, the administration said. It had earlier said it expected an average of 1.58 million daily inbound and outbound passenger trips during the holiday.

The rebound in international travel by Chinese tourists will be a boon to many tourism-dependent businesses around the world.

Before COVID-19, mainland Chinese tourists spent more than any other country’s tourists when abroad, clocking up a combined $255 billion in 2019, with group tours estimated to account for roughly 60% of that.

Booking platforms and agencies say Chinese tourists looking to go abroad favour cheaper Asian destinations, with Thailand by far the preferred choice after it introduced a visa waiver programme.

Spending on domestic trips during the holiday also beat the pre-pandemic level, with an average outlay of 911.6 yuan ($124.86) per trip, according to Reuters calculations based on government data published on Friday.

This compared with 830.8 yuan per trip in 2019 when the holiday was seven days long, and 680.6 yuan last year.

Travellers made 826 million trips within mainland China, up 71.3% from a year ago and 4.1% higher than in 2019, according to data released by the official Xinhua news agency.

(This story has been corrected to show that trips recovered to 85% of 2019 level, not beat that level, in the headline and paragraphs 1 and 3)

(Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; editing by Robert Birsel)