China inbound travel soars ahead of May Day holidays

The Beijing Road in Guangzhou is crowded with people during the May Day vacation, May 2, 2024. /CFP

The Beijing Road in Guangzhou is crowded with people during the May Day vacation, May 2, 2024. /CFP

Travelers’ enthusiasm is high over the May Day vacation, according to Ctrip, a Chinese online travel service, which recently released its latest tourism report for the Chinese market. Both inbound and outbound travel bookings have clearly increased.

According to the China Tourism Academy, data shows that inbound tourists mainly come from Malaysia, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and other countries. Cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Xi’an, Qingdao, and Tianjin in China are the most popular among overseas tourists.

According to Shenzhen News, more than 160,000 passengers entered, transited, and departed through Luohu Port, including more than 2,400 foreign tourists.

The staff in charge of the Luohu checkpoint told Shenzhen News, that with the implementation of the visa-free policy between China and many countries, the number of foreign tourists entering the country has increased significantly. The convenience of the visa-free policy allows foreign tourists to easily plan their itinerary, leave as soon as they want, and enjoy the charm of Chinese culture.

On the first day of the May Day holiday, a large number of foreign tourists entering in groups participated in the 144-hour visa-free tour group, which allows people from certain countries to enjoy six days of travel to select areas of the country without applying for a visa beforehand.

According to statistics, more than 800 foreign tourists from the 144-hour visa-free tour group entered and exited through Luohu Port, and tourists from all over the world cleared customs quickly at Luohu Port.

Wu Liyun, a professor at Beijing International Studies University’s China Academy of Culture and Tourism, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the surge in tour bookings can be attributed to several factors, including improved international people-to-people exchanges, visa-free policies, an increase in demand for outbound travel, and ongoing improvements to transportation and destination amenities.

Wu stated that the Chinese inbound and outbound tourism market is anticipated to rise rapidly in 2024, propelling the recovery of the global tourism market because of the easing of visa requirements and the expansion of airline capacity.

In addition, various local departments are also upgrading their services in terms of payment and public transportation.

At Wulukou Station of Xi’an Metro, the brightly colored “rainbow guide” is eye-catching. Subway staff said that they have updated a variety of travel routes to tourist attractions. These “rainbow guides” offer travel tips and are placed at the entrances and exits of the station.

To make people’s payments more convenient, many places have also launched small-change exchange services, mainly in cash of small denominations of 5, 10, and 20 yuan. In Huangshan, east China’s Anhui Province, ATMs in various tourist attractions have also implemented small-change exchange functions. The payment platform of the Huangshan Scenic Area recently launched a multi-language function.

An American tourist told China Media Group that tourists can scan the QR code on tables to order when going to a restaurant. It also has a function that can directly translate Chinese into other languages. When tourists search for “Huangshan,”  they can see many supporting services, such as hotels, meals, tickets, reservations, etc.