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Bumper travel rush expected during National Day holiday

By WANG XIAOYU | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-09-21 07:14

People of the Dong ethnic group raise a toast to tourists on Saturday in a village in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. TAN KAIXING/FOR CHINA DAILY

China is bracing for another bumper travel period during the upcoming National Day holiday, with a jump in sales of train and plane tickets, and with long-haul and overseas trips proving especially popular, according to transportation authorities and tourism agencies.

China State Railway Group, the country's railway operator, said over the weekend that it sold nearly 22.9 million tickets on Friday, marking a record for single-day ticket sales.

The number of visits to its ticketing website topped 53.2 billion on Friday, "reflecting a robust demand for traveling during the holiday", it added.

About 190 million passenger trips are expected to be made on the railway network during the holiday travel period from Sept 27 to Oct 8, compared with 72 million trips during the same period in 2022 and 138 million in 2019.

This year's travel period is longer because the National Day holiday directly follows the Mid-Autumn Festival, resulting in an eight-day holiday starting on Sept 29.

To cater to travelers' needs, the railway operator said that it will increase seating capacity by 18.5 percent compared with the same period in 2019, on top of implementing a peak operating schedule.

"We will also add 320 trains and more seats on popular routes," it said. And technical preparations will also be put in place to handle the high volume of traffic on its website.

Zhang Qianhui, from Wuxi, Jiangsu province, plans to travel to Hangzhou — the host city of the 19th Asian Games — for a volleyball match and a tour of the city.

"Train tickets to Hangzhou are selling out very fast," she said. "I wasable to get two tickets for me and my daughter, but our seats are in different train cars."

Jin Junhao, deputy director of the transportation department of the Civil Aviation Administration, said last week that about 21 million passenger trips are expected to be made by air during the holiday.

He said that aviation service providers plan to arrange 137,000 flights, or about 17,000 flights per day, during the holiday.

Among them, 14,000 flights are planned daily on domestic routes, up 18 percent from 2019, and the number of daily passenger trips is also expected to rise by 17 percent compared with 2019.

China has also resumed passenger flights with about 90 percent of the countries it flew to before the pandemic, he added.

Tourism packages and hotel rooms are also selling briskly, according to a report released earlier this month by Ctrip, a major online travel agency.

As of Sept 13, bookings for cross-provincial trips during the holiday accounted for 73 percent of the total, up 10 percentage points from the same period last year.

The most popular destinations for long-haul trips include northwestern regions famed for their autumn scenery, such as the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Gansu province, as well as those in southern China such as Hainan, Guangdong and Fujian provinces.

The report said that overseas trips during the holiday are registering an astronomical increase. The number of overall bookings for traveling abroad jumped nearly twentyfold from the same period last year, with Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore among the top destinations.

Cui Haoyuan, a Beijing resident, bought round-trip flight tickets to Cambodia in August for the upcoming holiday.

"I made the purchase immediately when I saw that there was a discount," he said. "It will be my third time traveling abroad this year, and I am already making plans for a fourth trip overseas."

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