Travel spending in China during the Lunar New Year holiday exceeds pre-COVID levels

Traditional Chinese dragon lantern

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China’s tourism revenue during the eight-day Lunar New Year holiday that ended Saturday rose 47.3% year-on-year thanks to a boom in domestic travel, surpassing pre-COVID 2019 levels, official data showed Sunday.

The data could offer temporary relief to policymakers as the world’s second-largest economy faces deflationary risks due to weak consumer demand, but the sustainability of the tourism boost remains uncertain.

During the holiday, known as the world’s largest annual migration, tourist attractions across the country witnessed huge crowds.

According to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, national tourism spending increased by 47.3% to 632.7 billion yuan ($87.96 billion) compared with the same holiday period in 2023, and increased by 7.7% compared to pre-COVID levels in 2019.

The number of domestic trips taken during this year’s holidays grew 34.3% from a year ago, for a total of 474 million, which also exceeded 2019’s pre-pandemic levels by 19%. the holiday lasted seven days.

Average spending per holiday trip this year reached 1,335 yuan, according to Reuters calculations based on ministry data. This compared to 1,238 yuan per trip in 2019.

The holiday, also called Spring Festival, is traditionally the time when hundreds of millions of people return to their hometowns by plane, train or road to reunite with their family members.

As for international travel, China recorded about 13.52 million inbound and outbound trips during the holiday, up 2.8 times from the same holiday period in China, according to the National Immigration Administration. ‘Last year.

According to the administration, total holiday in-out travel has returned to 90% of 2019 levels.

As movie-watching becomes one of the most popular entertainment activities during the holidays, the country’s box office receipts exceeded 8 billion yuan in eight days, according to the China Film Administration, marking a new record.

The economy has been grappling with multiple challenges, including a housing downturn and sluggish demand since last year, forcing policymakers to cut interest rates to spur growth even as many developed economies were focused on containing inflation stubbornly high.

While authorities are performing a delicate balancing act to support the economy at a time when signs of deflationary pressures call for further stimulus measures, China’s central bank left its key rate unchanged on Sunday while rolling over maturing medium-term loans .

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