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Qingming travel bookings boom

By CHENG SI| China Daily| Updated: March 21, 2024 L M S


A vendor cooks malatang, a mix of foods boiled in a hot, spicy broth, for customers at a diner in Maiji district in Tianshui, Gansu province, on March 15. [Photo by Feng Lekai/For China Daily]

The approaching Tomb Sweeping Day Festival, a period of ancestor worship, has become a popular tourism holiday for spring outings and flower viewing. Experts and tourism insiders said lower travel costs mean that some "niche "domestic destinations welcome a spate of visitors.

Travel portal Qunar said that many of its users have already made bookings for the holiday, which is also known as Qingming in Chinese. This year, the holiday will last three days, from April 4 to 6.

Qunar said the number of bookings made from March 9 to 15 was 1.4 times higher than during the previous week, and it expects more will be made as the holiday approaches.

High-profile destinations such as Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing, Jiangsu province, are among the top choices for the holiday, while some niche or lesser-known places such as Tianshui, Gansu province, and Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, have also seen a surge in bookings as they are viewed as cheaper alternatives.

According to Qunar, holiday flight bookings to niche destinations have registered a twofold increase on average on the platform. Hotels are generally less expensive in those places, costing an average of about 300 yuan ($42) per night.

Besides the lower costs associated with visiting the niche cities, tourists are attracted to some of their unique offerings.

For example, Tianshui spicy hotpot — with its boiled meat and vegetables and mouthwatering scarlet chili oil — has gone viral online, attracting large numbers of travelers to the city recently. Travel agencies said the city will welcome a wave of visitors during the Tomb Sweeping Day Festival.

Yan Yun, a 28-year-old man from Xi'an, Shaanxi province, said that he and his friends have planned a road trip to Tianshui to spend the holiday.

"I've seen some videos on Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) where people waited in very long lines for the spicy hotpot soup. It looks so alluring, and I bet I will eat two bowls of the soup the day I arrive in the city," he said.

"We will depart on April 3, one day ahead of the holiday to avoid the traffic peak, and it will take about four hours to get there. We will stay in the downtown area for one-and-a-half days and then drive to some neighboring tourism spots such as the Maiji Mountain Grottoes, which feature Buddha statues, and Zhangye with its gorgeous Danxia landform," he added.

Xiao Peng, a researcher at Qunar, said: "People who have become tired of the same scenery or snacks now prefer more special traveling experiences. A unique dish or an old street that isn't overcommercialized may help the destination attract crowds of travelers. It's more important for these niche destinations to keep these travelers with good services and honesty."

In addition to the traditional popular domestic destinations, holiday bookings have increased for some overseas hot spots such as Thailand, Japan and the Maldives, according to travel portal Tuniu.

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