Despite being the initial epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, new research has found Wuhan to be the most desirable domestic destination among Chinese travellers.
The report, conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Tourism Research Center, found the city based in China’s Hubei province is at the top of Chinese travellers’ wish lists for 2020, as the country’s domestic tourism market gradually resumes.
Based on 15,163 questionnaires and “big data”, the report found that people’s desire for travel is increasing, with one of the main reasons for travellers to return to Wuhan being a desire to contribute to the economic recovery of the region, according to state-run web portal China.org.
The hardest-hit of China’s cities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Wuhan ended its 76-day coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday 8 April, with residents able to again travel in and out of the city without special authorisation.
This came under the proviso that residents use a mandatory smartphone app – powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance – to show that they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus, AP News reported.
It came after the COVID-19-related deaths of at least 3,869 people in the city, which has a population of more than 11 million people. According to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, Hubei province has reported 4,512 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19.
On the whole, China has reported 4,643 deaths due to the novel virus, from a total of 84,393 confirmed cases.
According to China.org, the new report additionally showed that low-income travellers are especially interested in travelling to Wuhan as hotels and attractions offer lower prices.
Tourism has become more popular with low-income groups and seniors, who are growing to be potential consumers of tour products. The report found that people in this group are expected to take 3.8 trips on average this year, up from 1.6 trips the previous year.
Further, it is estimated that people will spend 5,746 yuan ($1,271) on travel this year, 734 yuan higher than in 2019.
Though some groups of people cancelled their trips because of COVID-19, about 72.4 per cent of people surveyed said that they still have plans to travel as the pandemic wanes.
According to the report, 9.4 per cent of those surveyed set their travel plans during the outbreak; about 30 per cent said that they will carry out their plans in three to six months, once the pandemic is over.
Short-distance tours are also recovering, the Tourism Research Center found, while outbound tourism lags as people think domestic attractions are much safer than those overseas.
In addition, Summer and National Day holidays are prime for vacation and are preferred by travellers, the report said.
“COVID-19 has created the greatest challenge the world’s tourism sector has seen in some time,” Song Rui, director of the Tourism Research Center, said.
“The industry is in a slow recovery thanks to the government’s strong and effective measures to control the epidemic, but the resumption of tourism faces obstacles as people stress over safety, cleanliness and possible risks when traveling.”
Shu Zhan, dean of the Tencent Culture and Tourism Industry Research Center, said at an online news conference recently that the coronavirus outbreak has thoroughly changed people’s view of consumption, which requires the industry to upgrade to meet people’s rising demand for higher quality tourism.
According to China.org, Shu said that travellers are placing more emphasis on quality, especially concerning emergency response, social security, and health.
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