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China tourist trips top pre-pandemic levels over May Day break, revenues still lower

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BEIJING (Reuters) -Chinese tourists made around 230 million trips over the extended May Day holiday as domestic travel surpassed pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, according to official estimates on Wednesday, although total tourism revenues were still lower.

China marked International Labour Day with a five-day holiday from May 1-5, giving workers a long-awaited opportunity to travel to other parts of the country after they were urged to skip their annual trip home for Lunar New Year in mid-February to stave off the risk of a COVID-19 resurgence.

The 230 million trips figure – an estimate from the data centre of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism – was up 119.7% from the same period of 2020, when travel was more restricted, and 3.2% higher than pre-pandemic levels, as people flocked to popular destinations from tropical Hainan to scenic Tibet.

Domestic tourism revenues, while up 138.1% year-on-year, were only 77% of pre-virus levels at 113.23 billion yuan ($17.5 billion), the ministry added.

Online travel giant Trip.com Group, which had expected up to 200 million trips to be made over the period, said its own orders – which include travel, room reservations and tour bookings – for May 1-5 were up around 270% year-on-year and up 30% from 2019 levels.

China State Railway Group was expecting to carry 17.2 million passengers home on Wednesday, the last day of the holiday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, up 30% year-on-year.

($1 = 6.4730 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Cheng Leng and Tom Daly; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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