Chinese tourism growth slows during the Lunar New Year holiday
Official domestic travel data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism recorded 415 million visits within the country during the holiday, an increase of 7.6 percent from a year ago. That’s lower than a growth of 12.1 percent in 2018.
Revenues from domestic tourism also increased this year — but at a slower pace of 8.2 percent to 513.9 billion yuan ($76.4 billion). In comparison, tourism revenue last year grew 12.6 percent from its 2017 number, data showed.
The Spring Festival numbers are decent, especially given pressures such as the slowing economy, Xin Chen, China tourism analyst at UBS Securities, said in a Mandarin phone interview translated by CNBC. He added there is some impact on high-end travel, but it is limited.
Chen also noted that spending on travel is relatively less expensive than purchasing luxury goods, and that a worsening economy with increasing unemployment would not reflect in tourism figures until six months, or a year later. But he thinks the economy could pick up in the second half of this year.
China’s smaller cities also showed rapid growth, both as a source of tourists and a destination, according to a separate report from Chinese travel booking site Ctrip.
“Unprecedented” enthusiasm for travel from county-level cities marked the biggest difference between this year and last year’s Spring Festival, Ctrip said in a Mandarin-language report. The company said the number of tourists from the counties of Heshan, Fogang and Huidong — all in the southern province of Guangdong — each reported year-on-year growth of five or six times.