China’s tourism sector recorded 422 million trips during its National day break, down 18.2% from the 2021 season, as strict COVID curbs are carried out across the country. 

Reuters cited China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism data, reporting that the number of tourist trips was only 60.7% of the pre-pandemic levels in 2019.   

The data also showed the country’s domestic tourism revenues were about $40 billion, down 26.2% from last year and just 44.2% of the pre-COVID 2019 number.

For years, China National day, also known as Golden Week, has been a great opportunity to boost the economy through tourism activities. As a result, the holiday was once one of the busiest seasons for business activities of the year for the retail sector, hotels and travel agencies, and public transport providers. 

But this year, things are different as people were discouraged from going out but stayed home as part of COVID containment measures. 

Authorities even have tightened their “zero-COVID” policy this year as the 20th national congress of the Chinese Communist Party is approaching right after the long holiday. 

China’s tourism sector suffers the most during the pandemic, especially on important holidays when people often travel.  

During the Mid-Autumn Festival in September, the country’s tourism revenue dropped about 23% from a year earlier and was down 39% compared with the pre-pandemic 2019.

Its Labor day in May also faced a record low number of passenger traffic, about 100 million, down 62% from the same period in 2021.

According to Fitch rating, the recovery of China’s tourism industry has slowed since mid-2021 and will remain volatile during the year due to travel restrictions.

China’s tourism sector accounts for 11% of China’s 2019 total GDP, playing a pivotal role in China’s economy. Except for 2020, the tourism growth rate of the country has outperformed its GDP since 2014.

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