Special report: Hotels reopen and travel booking searches rise in China as coronavirus wanes
China is seeing renewed interest in business and leisure travel as hotels reopen and the country begins to return to normal following the waning of the COVID-19 virus in the country. James Wilkinson reports.
China yesterday recorded its lowest death toll since the coronavirus outbreak and no new infections for the second day in a row, while Wuhan – the epicenter of the global crisis – recorded no new infections for the fifth day.
As the country has accelerated the pace of opening tourist sites and parks, easing closures and lowering emergency response levels in cities like Shanghai, Chinese travelers have shown increased interest in travel to national destinations.
Hotels across the country have started to resume operations, with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) reporting that 118 have reopened, with 60 hotels closed compared to 178 at the peak.
“In the last days [IHG has] started to see improvements in occupancy, albeit at low levels,” the company said.
According to the latest data from intelligence provider ADARA, there is more good news for the travel industry, with “promising signs of a rebound in flights to and from China from international origins align with the trajectory of the pandemic”.
Over the past two weeks, ADARA said it has seen an increase in the number of unique travelers looking for flights and accommodation, a sign that the Chinese market is looking to get back on the road in the coming months.
ADARA says unique searchers increased 29% for the week of March 8 compared to the week of March 1.
“Total searches follow a similar pattern,” the company says. “Total searches for flights to China (domestic and international inbound) are currently 55% of search volume seen during the week of January 5, down from a low of 34% in mid-February.
“The average number of searches per searcher has increased over the past month, averaging five to six searches per unique searcher.”
In another positive sign that China is looking to get back to business quickly, the percentage of flights searched for business travel has almost doubled from pre-COVID-19 levels – which is currently 38% from 20% in early January. .
“We are seeing subtle but significant shifts in flight bookings and travel searches in China. While it’s too early to predict long-term patterns, this insight helps travel brands better understand how quickly the market is changing as the coronavirus evolves,” says Carolyn Corda, CMO of ADARA.
ADARA’s search results come in the form South China Morning Post reports that two major Chinese booking sites have resumed selling domestic travel packages and attraction tickets.
The post office said Qunar and Ctrip, two of China’s largest online travel service providers, have resumed travel package and attraction ticket bookings after a two-month hiatus.
A Qunar spokeswoman said The post office that customers can now book pre-sale travel packages for April and May on the company’s app and website.
“Qunar now offers 1,000 domestic travel packages for regions such as Shanghai, Xinjiang and Sichuan, based on respective local government guidelines for tourism resumption,” according to The post office.
Ctrip started selling travel packages and attraction tickets on its app last week, according to The post office, with tickets to 1,449 well-known tourist sites across the country now available online, while 40% of China’s top national tourist sites have reopened.
“The reopening of tourist sites has laid the foundation for the recovery of the tourism industry,” said Ctrip Group Vice President Yu Xiaojiang. The post office, adding that the platform has seen a growing number of domestic travel agencies resume operations and they offer a variety of tours on its app.
Interesting way, The post office also reported “for the year 2020, Analysys predicts that the proportion of domestic tourism in the country’s overall holiday travel market will increase to 60% from 47% last year, with this number depending on the duration of restrictions on travel. international travel. in place”.
The two travel providers also reported a rebound in consumer confidence in travel, which was effectively shut down in China at the height of the country’s coronavirus crisis.