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    Labor Day Holiday: Surge in Travel to Lower-Tier Cities, Counties

    According to the Ministry of Transport, daily holiday travel is expected to exceed 270 million trips, surpassing levels from both 2019 and 2023.

    Driven by travelers seeking unique, less-crowded, and better-value experiences, China’s tourism market during this year’s five-day Labor Day holiday showed higher growth rates in lower-tier cities and county-level destinations.

    In the past, major cities were among the most popular tourist destinations, often leading to overcrowding during peak travel times.

    According to a report by domestic travel giant, improvements in transportation and tourist facilities, including hotels and scenic spots, have fueled the surge in tourism orders for small and medium-sized cities. Cities like Pingxiang and Lishui in eastern China have seen increases in tourism orders exceeding 40% over the previous year.

    According to, this offers tourists better value for money and a more relaxed atmosphere. “The prosperity of the county tourism market allows for a wider range of travelers and a more diverse range of destinations, deepening the foundation of the Chinese tourism market,” it said.

    Data from April also reveals that hotel bookings across counties during the Labor Day holiday increased by 68% compared to the previous year, while ticket bookings for scenic spots surged by 151%, both figures surpassing the national average.

    The opening of China’s first national park scenic road, spanning 251 kilometers in Wuyishan National Park, has further boosted tourism, leading to a 60% year-on-year increase in car rental orders in surrounding cities in the eastern Fujian and Jiangxi provinces.

    On the lifestyle app Xiaohongshu, young people are increasingly discussing trips to small towns to connect with nature while enjoying modern amenities. For instance, posts about Anji County in the eastern Zhejiang province frequently include keywords such as coffee, camping, hiking, and traveling with dogs. Despite its population of less than 600,000, Anji County boasts over 300 coffee shops, while enhancing its appeal by hosting music festivals and establishing outdoor camping bases.

    Xu Jiahua, a 33-year-old Shanghai resident, booked four-night stays at two county towns in Zhejiang. “We have visited so many big cities, but there’s a growing sense of homogeneity, which is disappointing,” he said.

    This year, the five-day Labor Day vacation beginning Wednesday set a record with 20.69 million railway trips across China — the highest for a single day. According to the Ministry of Transport, the average daily flow during the holiday is expected to exceed 270 million, surpassing travel levels from both 2019 and 2023. The Ministry also anticipated that over 80% of these trips would be self-driven.

    Editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: Tourists watch a performance in Lushi County, Sanmenxia, Henan province, May 1, 2024. Nie Jinfeng/VCG)