Short-distance tours becoming popular option as outbreaks persist

Chinese travelers are learning to appreciate the beauty of their hometowns and neighboring regions as they increasingly take short-distance tours, which are becoming popular due to travel disruptions caused by sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19.

The country's short-distance travel market performed better than the long-haul market this summer, according to Chinese travel agency

The report found that two-day, one-night weekend trips were preferred, with travelers opting for road trips, theme park visits and lodgings at holiday resorts.

According to Mafengwo, a travel service and social networking platform, the most popular short-distance tours during the first half of the year included activities such as camping, mountain climbing, cycling, skiing and visits to hot springs and art galleries.

Data from Mafengwo also showed that camping was often combined with outdoor experiences such as fishing, paddle boarding, yoga, horseback riding and cave exploration.

As outbound tours remain suspended due to the pandemic, Chinese travelers have been exploring the wealth of domestic tourism options.

Among them is 30-year-old Shanghai resident Sheng Yiyun.

"I like to visit less-crowded destinations to explore new ways of traveling. Also, in-depth tours help you better understand local cultures and customs," said Sheng, who has traveled to 33 countries and regions. A former headhunter, she became a full-time tourism influencer in 2019.

Some of her fans prefer outdoor experiences like hiking and camping. Others, especially her female fans, like to visit destinations where they can take pretty photos of themselves.

In an effort to boost the civil aviation industry, domestic airlines began offering packages last year that allow passengers to take unlimited flights during certain periods of time.

Thanks to these packages, Sheng has traveled to many Chinese cities cheaply, allowing her to enjoy the ethnic cultures of provinces such as Gansu and Hainan.

She has even visited some destinations several times to enjoy their scenery during different seasons.

For example, in the Tibet autonomous region's Nyingchi city, the annual peach blossom festival is held between March and April. It is the best time to enjoy picturesque views of flowers and the landscape.

Sheng also said that the late autumn scenery of Tengchong, Yunnan province, and Wuyuan, Jiangxi province, are appealing, while winter is a good time to go skiing in northern China.

On weekends, she goes camping around Shanghai and in neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, where there are plenty of well-equipped camping sites.

"Camping allows me to bring my portable home with me, and that is my own small comfort zone," she said.

Not only is she able to enjoy beautiful sunrises, she can also enjoy starry night skies. There are even bonfire parties at some sites.

She once pitched a tent in suburban Shanghai and made herself a cup of coffee in the woods.

"When you are cooking and eating meals outdoors, you also have a better appetite," she said.