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Holiday travel still strong

The global economic downturn won't stop Chinese people from traveling during the upcoming Lunar New Year, according to a survey released yesterday by New York-based Nielsen.


Nielsen, a leading global information and media company, conducted an online survey in China, which found that more than half of respondents on the mainland plan to travel during the Spring Festival, up 10 percent from last year.


Taiwan residents are also motivated to get moving during the holidays, with 46 percent of respondents planning to travel. The majority of respondents in Hong Kong, however, are choosing to holiday at home - only 35 percent said they will travel during this holiday.


"China's Lunar New Year is the most important holiday for Chinese families. Therefore, economic downturn doesn't stop the Chinese from traveling. In fact, it seems that it will be greater than last year when travel was affected by unprecedented snowstorms," said Grace Pan, head of travel and leisure research at the Nielsen Company in China.


However, the economic slowdown has started to affect holiday spending. The report revealed that about 46 percent of respondents on the Chinese mainland and 50 percent of Hong Kong respondents are planning to cut down on spending while on holiday.


"In these challenging economic times, Chinese travelers are looking for ways to save," Pan said.


Sanya, in Hainan province, has become the top destination for domestic travel, with 21 percent of respondents planning to have a warm holiday on beautiful beaches, followed closely by Lijiang (17%), in Yunnan province.


For outbound travel, Hong Kong is the most popular destination with six in 10 outbound travelers planning a visit there. Taiwan is the second-most popular outbound travel destination, and the top five was rounded out by Macao, Japan and South Korea.


In contrast, long-haul destinations like France, the UK and other European countries have dwindled significantly in popularity, with only 3 percent of consumers planning to visit France compared with 12 percent last year.


(China Daily January 20, 2009)