China holiday tourist trips fall 18% on year on broad COVID curbs

SHANGHAI, Oct 8 (Reuters) - China recorded 422 million tourist trips over the week-long National Day holiday beginning on Oct. 1, down 18.2% from last year's holiday season, government data showed, as the sector remains hit by stringent COVID-19 curbs.

The number of trips was 60.7% of the pre-COVID 2019 level, state broadcaster CCTV reported late on Friday, citing figures from China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Domestic tourism revenues, at 287.2 billion yuan ($40.37 billion), were down 26.2% on the year and just 44.2% of their pre-pandemic 2019 level, the data showed.

One popular destination, Xishuangbanna in southwest China's Yunnan province, was subject to stringent curbs over the holiday period, with districts locked down and tourists prevented from leaving after a COVID outbreak, with 12 positive cases of the Omicron BA.5.2 variant reported by the end of Thursday.

The region has ordered three rounds of tests in its urban centre Jinghong, and is delivering emergency food supplies to tourists unable to leave their hotels.

Urumqi, the capital of the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, has set up emergency accommodation for tourists after suspending outbound travel on Oct. 4.

The government will also help stranded migrant workers find work locally, state media said on Friday.

With travel impeded by COVID restrictions, many have preferred to stay at home. Per capita local tourism expenditure rose 30% year on year, according to China's largest online travel agency, Ctrip.

($1=7.1135 yuan)

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by William Mallard

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