xi’an

China’s Qingming holidays drive tourism surge with initiatives boosting inbound travel

People dressed in traditional Chinese costume participate in a Qingming Festival ceremony in Sichuan Province, on April 5, 2023. Photo: IC

People dressed in traditional Chinese costume participate in a Qingming Festival ceremony in Sichuan Province, on April 5, 2023. Photo: IC

The upcoming Qingming Festival holidays, which fall from Thursday to Saturday, are driving a notable peak for the travel industry, with spring blossom tours attracting domestic tourists while initiatives draw significant numbers of international visitors to the country.

The National Immigration Administration anticipates about 1.78 million passenger trips daily to be made through ports nationwide during the festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, which would be a surge of 74.5 percent year-on-year. 

Key entry points, including Beijing Capital International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport, along with land ports in Hong Kong and Macao, are set to witness a substantial increase in inbound and outbound tourists.

A wide range of activities and events themed with flowers across China have lured people to make travel plans for the holiday. A report by domestic travel platform Trip.com, released on March 21, showed that bookings for flower-viewing spots during the holiday period had skyrocketed more than sixfold year-on-year.

Data from Trip.com showed a 153 percent year-on-year increase in inbound travel bookings for the holiday, with cities such as Xi’an, Shangri-La and Zhangjiajie experiencing notable growth.

Several factors are contributing to the growth, including new spring blossom tours, support measures facilitating inbound travel, and the recovery of consumer spending in tourism, experts said.

Tourism for the upcoming holidays is about the combination of cultural travel and sightseeing. Apart from traditional tomb-sweeping activities during the festival, appreciating the natural beauty of spring is also a key travel motive, Jiang Yiyi, a deputy head of the School of Leisure Sports and Tourism at Beijing Sport University, told the Global Times on Monday.

Railway offices across China have launched special flower-viewing trains, offering customized travel options. The China Railway Xi’an Group Co set up 10 flower-viewing tourism trains in March, with additional services starting on Saturday.

These sightseeing trains link Xi’an in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province with Hanzhong, a city known for its sprawling fields of springtime rapeseed flowers. Currently, there are 138 round-trip high-speed trains linking Xi’an and Hanzhong daily, which stop at multiple rapeseed flower-viewing spots along the way.

Domestic tourism is at a new turning point. With the improvement of living standards and changes in consumption concepts, the industry has evolved to cover tourists’ needs for sightseeing and cultural experiences and spiritual fulfillment, Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

Recently implemented support policies have greatly facilitated foreign tourists’ entry into China, ranging from visa exemptions to the ease of using online and card payments. The policies have made traveling in China more convenient for foreigners to experience the country’s beauty and culture, Jiang added.

In the first two months of 2024, China recorded 2.95 million inbound and outbound trips by foreigners, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, indicating a growing interest among foreigners to visit China with the country’s efforts to make inbound tourism more convenient.