Aerial photo taken on Aug. 21, 2020 shows clouds swirling around the Great Wall in Zunhua City, north China's Hebei Province
Aerial photo taken on Aug. 21, 2020 shows clouds swirling around the Great Wall in Zunhua City, north China's Hebei Province
Photo: Xinhua

TAIYUAN: Wang Peng, a resident in south China's Shenzhen, could not wait to board a train to visit a world heritage site after he learned that trans-provincial group tours had resumed following months-long suspension due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I travel every summer holiday. As the epidemic gets contained, I decided to visit Mount Wutai, more than 2,000 km away from home," said Wang.

Embellished with rich Buddhist culture and historical resources, Mount Wutai is a popular summer resort in China. Since the beginning of the summer vacation, many tourists like Wang have been visiting the plethora of attractions across the country.

After July 14, when the Ministry of Culture and Tourism gave the nod for the resumption of trans-provincial group tours, summer travel has become a preferred choice among many Chinese people, who had been confined to their homes for months to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to a report by online travel giant Trip.com Group, the number of visitors opting trans-provincial group tours to popular tourist destinations increased nearly threefold month on month between July 14 and July 29.

Meanwhile, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the passenger load rate of five major Chinese airlines ranged from 65 percent to 82 percent between July and early August, while the figure was only 50.3 percent in February.

Local governments have announced a slew of incentives to attract tourists. Guizhou Province slashed the entry fee of all A-level scenic spots by half while Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region announced free tickets for group tours organized by travel agencies.

Shanxi Province's Jinci Temple, which has a history of over 1,400 years, witnessed a rapid growth in visitors last month.

"Visitors to the temple are granted free entry on weekdays, encouraging more people to pay a visit. It feels good to hear different dialects from all over the country again," said a tour guide, surnamed Liu.

Several cities and provinces introduced night tour routes to attract more visitors. Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province, launched a "Late Night Canteen" event at a local food street. Visitors can savor various delicacies and enjoy cultural performances from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

"Travel demands among Chinese people have been very strong in recent years," said Qiao Guanghui, a professor with Zhejiang Gongshang University. "The depressed need in the past few months will be unleashed during the summer vacation as the epidemic continues to ebb away across China."

More than 80 percent of the respondents in a survey by Trip.com Group said they are willing to travel in the second half of this year.

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