Domestic travel weaker ahead of holiday

Domestic travel demand is likely to remain muted for the upcoming National Day holiday. The week-long holiday and Chinese New Year are traditionally major travel holidays due to their length.

More complicated travel restrictions due to Covid controls have also meant that consumers are purchasing more last-minute local trips, according to services app Meituan.

In the company’s survey for the upcoming holiday, many consumers now wait to the last minute to book transportation, lodging, or tickets to scenic areas. Consumers making these reservations within 3 days of their trip now accounted for 50% of bookings in Meituan’s recent surveys. For the holiday in May, consumers making last-minute bookings rose 20% year on year and same-day bookings were the largest portion by category.

70% of consumers in the survey also said they would be spending the holiday locally and staying within their town or province. As the holiday approaches, many local governments have also encouraged residents to not travel over the holiday period.

This desire to stay local and avoid holiday travel is already being reflected in travel data. On Tuesday, officials in Chongqing said the combined train, airplane, and highway travel in the region is expected to drop by 33.9% for the holiday.

The decline in holiday travel, along with the rise in last-minute bookings, continues to reflect weaker consumer confidence in the country as it approaches three years of Covid-related restrictions.