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    As Golden Week Starts, Chinese Turn Homes into Tourist Stays

    With hotel prices soaring, some residents are offering affordable alternatives on social media platforms. This comes amid a surge in travel, with nearly 800 million trips expected over the next week.

    Amid skyrocketing hotel prices during the ongoing Golden Week holiday, Chinese residents have turned to renting out their own apartments to domestic tourists for short-term rentals, with many posting available rooms or homes on social media platforms, particularly on the lifestyle app Xiaohongshu, at affordable rates.

    Online, netizens showcase rooms complete with essential appliances and toiletries such as disposable toothbrushes. These rooms, typically priced below 100 yuan ($13.6) per night, present a significantly more affordable option compared to hotel rates during the same period.

    In these social media posts, room providers detail specific requirements for potential tenants. Some arrangements use a barter system, where neither party incurs additional costs. For added security, certain providers require ID checks, credit scores, or even a deposit. The terms of agreement range from simple verbal commitments to more formalized processes.

    And while some posts have preferences based on gender or ask tenants to manage their trash, a common request across listings reads: “Please do not touch personal belongings.”

    One post from Shanghai, a popular destination during the Golden Week, stated, “I’m going home for the holiday, making my room available for short-term rental.” The listing even highlighted nearby scenic attractions.

    However, the rising trend of short-term house rentals during the Golden Week holiday, while convenient, comes with its own set of concerns.

    Some netizens have voiced unease about the safety of their valuables and hygiene standards. Moreover, domestic media outlets have highlighted potential risks to personal security and privacy breaches, and called on authorities to establish a system that can ensure the safety and credibility of this tourist-driven rental economy.

    The country is marking its longest holiday of the year, celebrating both the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day, running from Friday to Oct. 6. This is the first Golden Week holiday in China in three years without pandemic-related restrictions, leading to an unprecedented surge in travel — estimated at around 800 million trips. 

    This represents an 11.5% average daily increase from 2019 and a 58.8% jump from 2022. However, amid the surge in travelers, many hotel-booking platforms have raised prices, prompting a significant number of travelers to consider alternative accommodation options like private rentals.

    In one such incident, a homestay owner in Lishui, a city in the eastern Zhejiang province, told domestic media Tuesday that she was surprised to find rooms at her hotel, originally listed at 680 yuan per night, adjusted by online platforms to 2,780 yuan per night. 

    Data from online travel platforms shows a surge in domestic tourism. By Sept. 15, bookings for air tickets, hotels, group tours, and attraction tickets to top destinations had surpassed volumes recorded in the same period in 2019. Specifically, high-speed rail tickets and hotel accommodations in popular tourist spots were in ‘short supply.’ 

    And domestic media reports indicate that the average cost for hotel stays in sought-after cities during the Golden Week holiday has seen a 16% increase compared to 2019 rates.

    Editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: BJI/VCG)