Holiday Hordes: Good for the Economy?

CDT previously reported on China’s super rich still going all out with their Golden Week travel plans. The Wall Street Journal reports Golden Week hordes may be a good sign for the economy:

A total of 34.2 million tourists visited the 119 major tourist sites monitored by China’s National Tourism Administration over the eight-day holiday, according to state media, a 21% increase year-on-year.

Complicating the calculations is the government’s decision to slash admission fees and toll road tariffs across the country, a move that likely artificially propped up visitor numbers. Also, Golden Week coincided with the mid-Autumn Festival this year, meaning the “week” was a day longer.

But according to a note from Credit Suisse chief regional economist for Asia Pacific Dong Tao, the tourist figures and revenue at tourist sites recorded over the holiday show that even as other industrial areas of the economy slow, consumption remains resilient, supporting a “soft landing” view.

Credit Suisse notes that this year’s 21% jump in tourist numbers far outpaced last year’s growth rate of 8.84%. More importantly, says the bank, admission revenues at the 119 major tourist sites jumped 25% on-year, up from 10.57% last year, despite the cut in prices.

Further supporting the “soft landing” of China’s economy are reports claiming that despite the slowdown in retail sales, consumers remain confident, from Reuters:

Overall retail sales grew 15 percent during the National Day holiday, which coincided with the Mid-Autumn Festival to provide a rare eight-day break. That compared with 17.5 percent growth last year during a seven-day holiday.

“On the bright side, the figures suggested that consumer sentiment on the mainland is still strong and people are willing to spend despite the slowing economy,” said Alex Fan, head of research at ICBC International.

“Everything you do during the holidays is beneficial, like shopping, travelling, as well as food and beverages.”

The spending patterns of the country’s 1.3 billion people are closely watched to gauge the health of China’s economy as it switches from a reliance on exports to boosting consumer demand at a time when economic growth is slowing.

With hordes of holiday travelers flocking to tourist sites, China’s 8-day holiday has left thousands feeling ‘miserable,’ according to Xinhua:

For microblogger “Rangrang2010”, driving along the expressway on her way home for the National Day holiday took far too long.

“I started at 4 o’clock in the morning on Sept. 30, but the three-hour journey took me about six hours after my car snailed among the sporadic accidents along the car-laden expressway”,the 24-year-old complained in a microblog piece.

On Sept.30 when Rangrang2010 left Beijing for home in neighboring Hebei province, 24 expressways witnessed traffic congestion in 16 provinces. The traffic claimed a total of 794 lives during the eight days.

“Xiaoaieluosi” said in his Sina Weibo account that the toll exemption was generally beneficial, but limited vacation options caused traffic pressures.


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