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China market sees high-end hotel travel boom and motorized travel is on the rise. Group has released its 2021 May Day results and travel trends, which reveal a strong recovery in China’s domestic travel market during the May Day Holiday (May 1-5). 

The five-day break has unleashed the customer demand for long-distance domestic travel. According to the data, the total number of bookings for the May Day Holiday shows an increase of 30+% in comparison with the same period in 2019, and represents a YOY increase by approximately 270%. Group has recorded a significant increase across many business areas during the May Holiday. According to the data, hotel booking GMV (Gross Merchandizing Volume) on the platform, for the first three days of the holiday, consecutively broke past records. Compared with the same period in 2019, the single-day number of booking volume increased by 70%. Group has identified the following key trends from China’s May Holiday data which are likely to be indicative of international travel trends once restrictions are lifted:  

China market sees high-end hotel travel boom 

After being cooped up at home during lockdown, many travelers will have found themselves with more disposable income to treat themselves to a luxury trip. While outbound travel is restricted and the consumption stays inbound, high-end leisure travel during the May Day holiday has gained popularity, most evident through hotels with high star ratings and exclusive private tours. According to the data, high star-rated hotels accounted for 40% of all the hotel bookings, while beachfront hotels, suburban vacation resorts and theme park hotels became consumers’ favorites. 

Motorized travel is on the rise 

Under the country-wide policy for toll-free express-ways during the holiday, the car rental market has seen a significant boom demonstrating that more travelers are looking to explore China via a road trip. Group’s car rental peak daily growth reached 330% compared to the same period in 2019. The top 10 road trip destinations during May Day Holiday were Sanya, Chengdu, Haikou, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chongqing, Kunming, Guangzhou, Guiyang and Dali.

Whistle stop tours – record volume of single-day tickets booked 

Compared to 2019 records, Group’s single-day ticket booking volume, peak daily growth rate, reached 449%. Moreover, on May 1st, single-day ticket GMV surge reached new record, followed by another new record set on May 2nd. Both single-day ticket booking volume and travel transaction volume reached a new high, doubling the historical peak.

Increase demand for private tours 

Travelers are seeking a safe way to travel in their ‘bubble’ of close family and friends. As a result, private tours have performed well during the May Day holiday, with orders increased by about 230% compared to the same period in 2019. Among the destinations, Beijing, Guilin, Guiyang, Sanya, Hohhot, Xi’an, Yinchuan, Zhangjiajie, Lijiang, and Xiamen are the top ten destinations for private tours. 

Travelers seek diversified experiences

In addition to the above trends, experienced local guides can bring many new perspectives and is why travelers are seeking local travel experiences that help enrich their lives while supporting both local communities and businesses. In the Chinese province of Shaanxi, guided tours helped visitors discover the Terracotta warriors, unveiling first-hand stories of exploration; in Hunan, guides recommend travelers visit the “Baihutang” (White Tiger Sanctum) where only local insiders would previously venture; and in Dunhuang, guides lead the way to camping in the desert.

As of May 4, the number of local guide bookings during May Day holiday increased by 120% compared to the same period in 2019. The top 10 destinations are: Shaanxi, Qinghai, Sichuan, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Fujian and Hunan.

Furthermore, as tourists now have a higher level of purchasing power, they are willing to explore the streets and city landscapes at night. Niche scenic spots have gained popularity and “night travel” has captured tourists’ interest. They have opted to explore “late night diners” hidden in alleys and lanes. Other night experiences such as nightclubs and bars are also important to the younger generation of travelers and help boost the night-time economy. Among the popular city destinations, Chongqing, Changsha and Guangzhou are most prominent for its nightlife. 

It is importance to note, experiences were different among generations. Post-80s keywords included ‘scenic area’, ‘Sanya’, ‘self-driving route’ and ‘Bar’ Gen-z, represented by post-00, prefer a more fragmented travel experience with ‘snacks’, ‘night markets’ and ‘landmark buildings’ among their keywords searched.  

Bo Sun, Chief Marketing Officer at Group comments: “This year’s May Golden Week has been the most popular public holiday in the tourism market since the outbreak of the pandemic, representing the pent-up demand for travel. With the accelerated vaccination rate in the country, the tourism market is anticipated to maintain a strong momentum. It is believed the domestic tourism economy will reignite further in the upcoming summer and National Day holiday in October. We are confident that these Chinese travel trends will be indicative of wider international travel patterns once travel resumes worldwide and we are feeling positive about the safe return and recovery of global travel.”

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