Published: 11:36, April 19, 2024
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People rush to book May Day holiday trips while tickets last
By Cheng Si

Bookings to overseas destinations in Asia and Europe have also increased

An Air China plane takes off from Beijing Daxing International Airport. (ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY)

"I was holding my breath and clicking the screen very quickly. I grabbed the ticket in just a couple of seconds, then all the tickets sold out," said Li Yufang, 29, who bought a high-speed train ticket from Beijing to Huangshan, Anhui province, on Wednesday for the May Day holiday.

"It was like the Spring Festival holiday, like all the Chinese people holding their phones grabbing tickets, which was crazy. And I can't relax now because I have to grab myself a return ticket."

On Wednesday morning, train tickets to some hot domestic destinations sold out in a few minutes. People are allowed to book train tickets 15 days before departure and Wednesday was the first day for booking train tickets for the five-day May Day holiday, which will begin on May 1.

The busy train booking system shows people are enthusiastic about holiday travel, and travel agencies and tourism industry insiders expect a travel boom over the holiday.

Travel portal Group said that, as of Tuesday, searches for domestic hotels and flight tickets on the platform had seen steady growth, and searches for flight tickets heading to overseas destinations had surged 56 percent year-on-year.

Prices of flight tickets have risen because of that demand. Online travel agency Qunar said the cost of flights to domestic destinations on its platform averaged around 990 yuan ($137), up 60 percent from last month.

"We see strong travel demand this May Day holiday and some flights may be in short supply as the holiday approaches," said Xiao Peng, an analyst from Qunar.

"Customers with clear travel plans can purchase the tickets as soon as possible, while those who choose to visit a random place for the holiday can wait and see for possible discounts."

Travel agencies said long-distance trips are in favor for the holiday, and they expect some overseas destinations to do well.

Domestically, the most popular cities remain traditional top destinations including Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. Other less-known places, such as Tianshui in Gansu province, which is famous for its hotpot soup with scarlet chili oil, have also become popular destinations for the holiday since their cultures and cuisines went viral online, Group said.

Domestic destinations will also see more international travelers during the holiday. Group said inbound trip bookings on the platform have risen by 130 percent, with most from people from Japan, the United States, South Korea, Canada and Malaysia.

It said Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, are top choices for international visitors.

Travel bookings to overseas destinations have also increased. Group said that in addition to Asian countries including Japan, Thailand and South Korea, some destinations involved in the Belt and Road Initiative such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also seen growing bookings on the platform.

International travel cruises departing from Shanghai and Xiamen, in Fujian province, for the May Day holiday have already sold out on the platform, it said.

Tuniu, another online travel agency, said, "Southeast Asian countries remain popular, and we've also received many bookings and inquiries for trips to New Zealand, Turkiye, and to European countries like Germany, France, Spain and Portugal."