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County travel craze sparks tourism market potential

More people seeking holidays at quieter, low-key destinations, experts say

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-21 07:08

Tourists take a selfie at a temple dedicated to Fuxi — the legendary ancestor of the Chinese nation in Tianshui, Gansu province, in April. HOU CHONGHUI/FOR CHINA DAILY

The improvement of high-speed rail transportation infrastructure has increased accessibility to third and fourth-tier cities as well as county-level markets, Wang said.

At the same time, tour offerings in lower-tier markets keep improving. Since the beginning of this year, nearly 1,000 county-level tourist attractions have been added to Trip.com's platform, according to the agency.

Since December last year, more than 120 new 4A-level tourist attractions have emerged across 10 provincial-level administrative regions, with 65 percent of them located in county and county-level cities, the agency reported.

The prosperity of county-level tourism markets means an expansion of the tourist population and a greater diversification of travel destinations, making the foundation of the Chinese tourism market even stronger, Wang said.

In addition, rural residents' travel numbers now account for 16.9 percent of the total number of domestic holiday travelers, according to a recent report from the China Tourism Academy.

This structural shift in the demand side of the tourism market will make cost-effectiveness a more crucial aspect of market competition, which promises more opportunities for lower-lier cities, according to the report.

Dai Bin, president of the academy, said tourism stakeholders and authorities should all be aware that a new era of mass tourism characterized by rising demand for lower-tier destinations has arrived.

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