Caixin
Jun 15, 2021 07:59 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Holiday Tourism, Box Office Fall Short of Pre-Outbreak Levels Amid Covid Flare-Ups

People watch the first Yangtze River Three Gorges Dragon Boat Invitational on Monday in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Photo: VCG
People watch the first Yangtze River Three Gorges Dragon Boat Invitational on Monday in the southwestern city of Chongqing. Photo: VCG

China’s services recovery is still under pressure as tourism and box office sales during the Dragon Boat Festival holiday failed to rebound to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels, official data show, and the hospitality sector in southern China was hit by pandemic flare-ups.

Compared with the same holiday period pre-pandemic in 2019, domestic tourism sales revenue was 74.8% and the box office rang up 59% of equivalent revenue.

Tourists made 89.1 million domestic trips during from Saturday to Monday, equivalent to 98.7% of the pre-pandemic level, according to (link in Chinese) the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Income returns for tourism service providers lagged behind the number of tourists. Domestic tourism revenue reached 29.4 billion yuan ($4.59 billion) during the holiday, equivalent to 74.8% of revenue in the same period pre-pandemic, although it increased 139.7% year-on-year, the ministry’s data show.

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The tourism data are worse than those for the previous Labor Day public holiday in May, during which domestic tourist visits rose 3.2% (link in Chinese) compared with the same period before the pandemic, and tourism revenue rebounded to 77%.

“This marks a slight reversal of the recovery in the hospitality sector, due to the new wave of Covid-19 in some eastern provinces (e.g., Liaoning, Anhui and Guangdong) since mid-May and a tightening of social distancing rules,” economists at Nomura International (Hong Kong) Ltd. wrote in a Tuesday note.

In the southern economic hub of Guangdong province, a resurgence of Covid-19 cases over the past few weeks has prompted the local government to impose travel restrictions, including grounding some flights and canceling train services.

Nomura economists expect some social distancing rules to remain in place in the coming weeks with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China falling on July 1.

Box office was also sluggish during the holiday weekend compared with the years before the pandemic. It rose to 466 million yuan during the three-day period, according to data from movie industry platform Dengta App, from nearly zero in the same period last year when cinemas were closed to prevent the virus spreading. But it was substantially lower than returns of 785 million yuan during the same holiday in 2019 and 912 million yuan in 2018.

Also, the industry’s recovery lost momentum as the box office was not as strong as the two previous public holidays this year. During the Labor Day holiday, the box office rose 9.6% in nominal terms compared with 2019, and grew 17.8% for the Qingming Festival holiday compared with 2019.

At a Saturday industry event, some filmmakers complained (link in Chinese) that, although box office has been recovering, film studios are still under strong financial pressure as the pandemic’s impact has slammed their balance sheets and pushed up debt.

Contact reporter Guo Yingzhe (yingzheguo@caixin.com) and editor Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com)

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