As China lifts restrictions, here's where its people want to travel
As China slowly eases lockdown restrictions and life returns to somewhat normal conditions, residents have once again started traveling.
From the Bund waterfront in Shanghai to scenic Huangshan Mountain park in the Anhui province, major landmarks across the country welcomed thousands of visitors over the weekend.
But an uptick in domestic sight-seeing doesn't necessarily mean international travel will rebound as quickly. At least, not according to a recent study conducted by the Ctrip.com Group, China's largest online travel agency.
Based on a survey of 15,000 people across 100 cities in China at the end of March, the company found that 16% of respondents will be ready to travel again in May in time for Golden Week, a five-day public holiday.
However, the vast majority—to the tune of 90%—would prefer to travel domestically, with destinations like Yunnan, Hainan island and Shanghai sweeping the top three preferences.
According to Ctrip.com, roughly 61% of Chinese travelers surveyed indicated that they would feel ready to travel again by August.
A smaller-scale survey of 1,000 people across the country conducted by international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman supports these findings.
Roughly 77% of those surveyed said they would prefer a domestic destination for their first post-epidemic trip, citing "the severe virus situation overseas" as one of the main considerations when choosing a destination.
As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through regions like the US, UK and Europe and international air travel has slowed to a near standstill, it's hardly surprising that many Chinese travelers would prefer to explore at home, where new domestic infections have dropped dramatically.
What's more, there's no shortage of things to see and do across the vast nation.
Across the country, China counts 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites as well as countless natural wonders, like Zhangjiajie's "floating" peaks, the karst scenery of the Li River outside of Guilin and Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan.
As Covid-19 restrictions ease, many of the country's most famous tourist attractions are slowly reopening, including the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
"Chinese people are curious and passionate about exploring their country and seeing different provinces, cities and landmarks," Holger Jakobs, vice president of sales and marketing of Wharf Hotels, tells CNN Travel.
Both the Ctrip.com and Oliver Wyman surveys found that concerns about safety and ease of travel are top of mind.
"Chinese travelers want to feel safe and virus-free at each touchpoint along the journey," says Katie Sham, a principal of Oliver Wyman.
"They want to make sure that the hotels and the restaurants they choose are frequently sanitized, with hygiene being the top priority of the staff."
In addition, many travelers will prefer easy, short trips. The idea being, that if they encounter any problems, they can easily return home.
According to the Ctrip.com survey, the most popular style of travel will be independent, self-guided trips and smaller group tours.
According to Oliver Wyman, 71% said they would avoid tour bus excursions and 55% would avoid cruises, due to perceived health risks.