China's Golden Week Travel
Travel bookings for one of China's busiest holidays, the October 1 National Day Golden Week are gathering speed in Beijing.
Overseas travel and vacation bookings began in early August and the first wave hit by the end of the month, 20 days earlier than last year, Family vacation bookings dominate the Golden Week market. Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Italy and other European hot spots are almost half booked already. Some travel agencies have decided to push some less popular destinations such as Israel, Jordan and Tunisia. For example, some travel agencies have opened bookings for a "Holy Land" vacation to Israel. Tourists will visit Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and other attractions in the Middle East. Prices range from 16,800 to 22,600 yuan.
Taiwan has become the latest favorite spot since July this year after the mainland and Taiwan signed an agreement in June to boost transport and tourism links. Thirteen cities and provinces have received the green light to travel to Taiwan, Jinmen, Mazu and Penghu. Travelers from the mainland can only go on scheduled charter flights.
Most Taiwan travel packages range from six to eight days, with prices from 6,800 to 9,400 yuan.
Apart from new destinations, some travel agencies expect ocean passenger liners to yield remarkable profits in the first post-Olympic holiday.
First introduced earlier this year, passenger ocean liner tourism is getting a good response from young and well-off travelers.
A single booking for a five-star liner to Japan and Korea costs 5,299 yuan. The Ocean liners to Europe, Mexico and Caribbean Sea cost more than 20,000 yuan. Some luxury cruise plans are priced at 29,999 yuan or more.
Travelers are expected to pay 10 percent more for their trips in the National Day holiday than during the summer. Higher fuel oil taxes, strong demand for flights, and hotel rooms are pushing up prices.
Tourism slumped heavily in the first half of the year due to the snowstorm in southern China and the earthquake in Sichuan. The outbound tourist flow hit its lowest point in the summer when many travelers opted to stay home and watch the Beijing Olympic Games.
Most travel agencies expect tourist traffic to rebound during Golden Week and the Chinese New Year early next year.
However, the overall domestic tourism picture doesn't look good.
Due to a lower demand for Golden Week, many agencies are offering 400-500 yuan discounts to attract budget-conscious domestic travelers.