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Love of travel back in the fast lane
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The Chinese mainland's love of travel is back in high gear.

According to the latest online survey, 91.9 percent of Chinese people plan to travel in the next three months. That number was up sharply from the 46.7 percent who planned to travel during the second quarter.

The China Tourism Academy and Sohu.com survey quizzed more than 2,500 people nationwide between Aug 1 and 15.

Dai Bin, the academy's deputy director, said Tuesday the survey showed "we have passed the deepest crisis".

The research also found more Chinese were looking to head overseas, with 10.6 eyeing international destinations - up from 5.3 percent.

And non-mainland destinations, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, were also popular, with 8.5 percent considering a trip compared to 6.6 percent in the previous quarter.

According to Dai, the percentages are more or less "back to normal" for the travel industry, following the downturn caused by the global financial crisis and H1N1 flu outbreak.

The survey found people are willing to spend more on travel.

More than 71 percent were willing to spend between 500 and 5,000 yuan on their travel plans. Another 25 percent said they would spend more than 5,000 yuan.

Air travel, the most expensive means of getting around, has now eclipsed train travel as the favored way to go on holiday; 45 percent planned to travel by air in next three months while 35.6 percent favored the train.

And a small but growing number hoped to take a cruise. Some 1.38 percent of those surveyed said they planned to take to the water - a new type of holiday that has hardly figured in previous surveys.

"Overall, (the survey findings) are good news," Dai said.

Chen Yueliang, vice president of the China International Travel Service head office, said the market in May, June and July was slow. But it picked up in August.

He said bookings by Chinese people to non-mainland destinations through his company were up compared to the same period last year.

Sun Xu, with the marketing department of the Beijing Caissa International Travel Service, said sales of the company's outbound tourism products showed the market was emerging from its slump.

Lu Shengnan, a retired teacher from Jiangsu province who traveled with her daughter to Suzhou last week, summed up the mood of many when she said: "I just couldn't see any reason why I shouldn't go."

The tourism industry is now looking forward to a boom in October during the 'Golden Week'. This year, the week will last eight days because of the addition of a one-day Mid-Autumn Festival on Oct 3 to celebrations of the founding of New China.

"The Golden Week in October will be the most suitable long public holiday for people to make long-distance travel plans this year," Dai Bin said.

Sun Xu with Caissa said recently resumed tours to the US and trips to new destinations, including the Czech Republic, are popular.

Zhang Wei, from Beijing, said he planned to take his wife to Europe during the Golden Week.

"It will make our leave longer, just suitable for such overseas travel," he said.

(China Daily August 19, 2009)

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