Issued tickets from Shanghai to the Chinese resort city of Sanya surpass 2019 levels despite ongoing restrictions in the country continuing to curb domestic travel from most regions, says leading travel analytics provider ForwardKeys.
In the week of 18 June 2022, issued air tickets from Shanghai to Sanya, the southernmost city on the popular Chinese tourist island of Hainan, increased fivefold compared to the previous week, even surpassing figures from the same period in 2019 by 15%. This is despite stringent restrictions continuing to curb domestic travel from risk areas, with tickets for travel from Shanghai to China nationwide down 94% in the same week – and Chinese domestic travel in general down 67% – compared to the corresponding period in 2019.
“Eighty-four per cent of Shanghai–Sanya tickets issued in the week of 18 June were for travel between 19 June and 3 July, which is the very definition of ‘last minute’,” comments Nan Dai, Insights Expert at ForwardKeys. “This is an example of what we call ‘revenge travel’ as it reflects the desire of Shanghai residents to visit a sun-kissed destination after two long months of confinement in the city. However, amid ongoing uncertainty and as a consequence of the trend towards last-minute reservations, forward bookings for summer travel during July and August remain 52% below 2019 levels.”
Whereas most Chinese cities retain strict rules for travellers from risk areas, Sanya has become one of the first cities in the country to ease restrictions on tourists from Shanghai as it seeks to capitalise on revenge travel. As per the latest requirements, visitors from four Shanghai districts deemed risk areas are required to take a PCR test within 48 hours of departure and a second test three days after arriving in Sanya, while travellers from elsewhere in Shanghai need only take a PCR test upon arrival.
Another reason for the surge in ticket bookings from Shanghai to Sanya, explains Nan Dai, is the inaugural Hainan International Outlying Islands Duty Free Shopping Festival, which began on 28 June and runs for six months, featuring over 50 promotional activities.
“Perhaps unsurprisingly considering Hainan is a duty-free shopping haven, many of the tourists travelling from Shanghai to Sanya are affluent,” explains Nan Dai. “Tickets issued for premium-class travel have grown by 174% compared to 2019, with this type of travel increasing its market share from 6% to 17%.”
For those travelling in premium classes, family is the dominant travel profile with a 55% share, Nan Dai adds, followed by couple (25%), solo (12%) and group (8%). Shares for the family travel profile have grown by the most significant margin, with the increase of eight percentage points compared to 2021 attributable to revenge travel.
Meanwhile, with airlines deploying larger aircraft to accommodate travel demand, seat capacity from Shanghai to Sanya in July and August has increased by 53% compared to summer 2019.
Domestic travel is set to benefit further from the Chinese government’s decision to remove the indication of coronavirus risk from digital travel passes, meaning the ‘Big Data Itinerary Card’ will no longer reveal whether a traveller has recently entered a city with Covid-19 cases.
“Regarding international travel, the government this week announced its intention to reduce international quarantine to seven days in a dedicated quarantine facility and three days of home monitoring from the long-standing ‘14+7’ requirement,” says Nan Dai. “These changes to the normalised Covid-19 prevention and control measures bring hope of a wider market recovery.”