In China’s post-Covid-19 tourism market, short-distance travelling and luxury holidays are leading the rebound, while tour groups and business trips are declining, according to industry players.
As the country’s US$1 trillion tourism industry slowly gets back on its feet after taking a massive hit from the coronavirus outbreak, the shape of its recovery could provide lessons for the rest of the world still struggling with the pandemic.
“The coronavirus will have a profound and long-standing effect on the global tourism industry,” said Qian Jiannong, chairman and chief executive of Fosun Tourism, in an recent interview with the South China Morning Post. “Different segments and regions in the market will diverge in their future performance, and this will lead to great structural opportunities.”
Tourists so far have embraced destinations close to their homes to keep travel to a minimum, according to Jiang Hong, chairman of China Travel International Investment Hong Kong, which owns theme parks, hotels and tourist attractions across China and Hong Kong.
“The psychological effect of the virus is still lingering, so the traditional long-distance tour group has not recovered much,” said Jiang. “But our family-oriented attraction complexes that include theme parks and hotels, and are located around big city clusters, such as Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou, [in August] have matched or surpassed the level in the same period last year.”
The Hong Kong-listed company is looking to invest in more such projects in the Pearl River Delta region in eastern China and the Greater Bay Area, according to Jiang. The firm suffered a 74% slump in first-half revenue to HK$571 million (US$73.7 million).
Meanwhile, high earners and middle-class families, unable to travel overseas as most countries’ borders remain closed to tourists, flocked to domestic luxury resorts. Atlantis Sanya, in the southern island of Hainan and owned by Fosun Tourism, was one beneficiary of the strong recovery in the high-end segment.
Occupancy at the five-star hotel, which features a water park and an aquarium, reached 95% in early August, even as room rates rose 5% from the same period last year, according to Fosun Tourism’s Qian. A night’s stay at Atlantis ranges between RMB 2,488 and RMB 12,0539, according to travel booking websites.
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