Published: 10:49, June 4, 2024
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Travel boom expected as Dragon Boat Festival draws near
By Cheng Si
A staff member works at a workshop of a wooden boat manufacturing enterprise in Zhuhong Wooden Boat Cultural Industry Park, Xinghua city, Jiangsu province, May 19, 2024. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Short-distance destinations with the vibe of traditional Chinese culture have seen a surge in bookings with the approach of the Dragon Boat Festival holiday, which in 2009 became the first Chinese holiday to make UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list.

Dragon Boat Festival, which usually falls on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar, will see a three-day break this year, starting on Saturday. Various folk activities will be held during the holiday, including dragon boat races, eating sticky rice dumplings, or zongzi, and hanging bunches of mugwort for blessings.

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Travel agencies and industry insiders expect a travel boom, saying that tour products are more affordable and scenic spots will be less crowded this holiday, as the holiday overlaps with China's annual national college entrance examination — known as gaokao — starting on Friday.

Figures from the travel portal Group show that short-distance tours are hot sellers on the platform, with bookings to short-distance destinations increasing 20 percent year-on-year so far. It said that tour products to Nanjing in Jiangsu province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Shanghai have been the platform's top-selling products for short-distance trips.

The online travel agency Tuniu said that most of its users make two-or three-day travel plans for the short holiday, and they are eager to explore destinations with folk culture and tasty food. It added that destinations with farm views or exotic culture — for example, Altay in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region — have also been popular, as hit television dramas made them trendy destinations.

Bookings for hotels and homestays that offer folk activities have surged. The homestay booking and operating platform Tujia said that, as of Wednesday, searches for homestays involving dragon boat and zongzi folk activities rose 50 percent month-on-month, and bookings to such homestays doubled year-on-year.

Xu Di, owner of the Beima Villa, a homestay in Dalian, Liaoning province, said that 90 percent of the rooms were booked for the holiday, and the homestay is fully booked for Saturday, the first day of the holiday. She said that many folk activities will be organized for customers, such as making zongzi and palm-leaf fans.

"It's of great importance to pass down traditional customs. We hope that these handicraft activities can let families living at our homestay feel the charm of the traditions of Dragon Boat Festival and keep these memories," she said.

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Longguili, a riverside homestay in Foshan, Guangdong province, has also seen an increase in bookings, as dragon boat races will be held on the river during the holiday.

"Customers can see the intense races from the windows of our rooms," said Lin Datao, the manager of Longguili. "Guangdong has a long-standing tradition of the spirit of racing dragon boats, and the holiday atmosphere is attracting more travelers."

Zheng Nan, from Tuniu's public relations department, said that more travelers, especially younger ones, focus on experiencing folk customs during traditional Chinese festivals, and they explore different destinations by attending local celebrations and tasting local food specialties.

"The dragon boat races, for example, are not only a good way to promote traditional Chinese culture, but also to attract travelers from home and abroad to feel 'The Fast and the Furious' on the water," she said.