Published: 10:21, September 27, 2023 | Updated: 11:02, September 27, 2023
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National Day holiday boom drives up ticket, hotel bookings
By Cheng Si

Kites in various shapes attract visitors to Weifang, Shandong province, on Tuesday during the opening ceremony of the autumn edition of the 40th Weifang International Kite Festival. The spring edition of the festival was held in April and saw more than 600 participants. (ZHANG CHI / FOR CHINA DAILY)

Wang Lu holds her breath as the clock shows 12:29 pm. A minute later she frantically jabs her phone screen to grab two train tickets from Beijing to Huangshan for the National Day holiday. Within minutes of bookings opening, tickets are sold out. But Wang manages to buy two tickets for herself and her husband, and they are set to travel to Anhui province on Friday.

The holiday bonanza begins with Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday and runs through Oct 6. According to industry insiders and travel agencies, the eight days will see a travel boom, with millions of people moving between destinations around the country to make the most of the Golden Week.

"I am not exaggerating when I say the tickets were snapped up in seconds. I knew it would be tough to get tickets, but the sheer rush still astonished me," said Wang, 28, who is embarking on a four-day-and-three-night trip to Huangshan to experience the mountain views and explore the ancient villages.

Latest figures from China Railway Group showed that around 217 million train tickets were sold between Sept 13 and Saturday. Tickets are available for booking 15 days before the date of departure. The group said that train ticket bookings touched a record daily high of around 26.95 million on Friday.

The growing appetite for travel among people is also driving up bookings on online travel platforms. According to Trip.com Group, as of Sept 6, bookings for domestic trips had registered a fivefold increase year-on-year on the platform.

Travel portal LY.com said that long-distance tours are particularly popular among its customers at this time. Given the long break, bookings for far-flung domestic destinations such as the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and the Tibet autonomous region have so far increased by over 300 percent year-on-year on its platform.

The ongoing 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, has proved to be the icing on the cake for the already sizzling tourism market over the National Day holiday.

Online travel services provider Qunar said that as of Sept 18, flight ticket bookings to Hangzhou for the duration of the sports gala, which ends on Oct 8, was 20 percent more than the figures for the same period in 2019. Hotel bookings surged 4.4 times.

However, the travel surge has pushed up hotel room prices and instances of ticket scalping.

A woman, surnamed Jin, who runs a homestay in Zhejiang, posted a video on Tuesday saying that the nightly rate for her rooms on a homestay platform had been raised without her consent, from 680 yuan ($93) to 2,780 yuan.

According to a report by Jiemian, a news outlet in Shanghai, the platform said that the price adjustment was an operation error rather than an intentional move. Jin, however, removed her listing from the platform and made the rooms available for booking through other channels.

Meanwhile, to better regulate the tourism market during the holidays and ensure people have a good experience, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has asked local authorities to tighten supervision to check improper or illegal operations by tourism companies. The ministry has also asked culture and tourism departments at all levels to optimize reservation systems or lengthen operating hours, where possible, to allow people to visit attractions.

Li Jianwei, an official at the ministry's market management department, said at a recent news conference that the desire among people to travel during the holiday period was strong, providing the culture and tourism market a strong recovery momentum.

"Efforts will be made to strengthen law enforcement inspections against illegal and irregular business operations to ensure the safety, stability and orderly conduct of the holiday tourism market," he said.

He added that he hoped travelers would respect the destination's culture, religion and customs while taking good care of themselves by following good hygiene.

chengsi@chinadaily.com.cn