Amid concerns about China's economic slowdown, data show tourism during a week-long national holiday grew and even saw sharp increases from relatively less affluent areas.
In the next five years, so-called tier-three and tier-four cities' pace of consumption growth will surpass that of tier-one and tier-two cities, Xin Chen, China tourism analyst at UBS Securities, said in an interview Tuesday with CNBC.
Chinese cities are divided into tiers, with Beijing and Shanghai falling into the "tier one" category. Although a lower-tier city can still be relatively large by Western standards, increased interest in tourism from those areas indicates that local economies are still faring well.
Chen attributed the greater increase in spending power to this year's Chinese tax reform — which raised the minimum on monthly taxable income — and improved living conditions that give locals more ability to spend on leisure activities.
This past Sunday marked the end of seven days of vacation to commemorate the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949. Also known as the "Golden Week," the "National Day" holiday is a popular time for Chinese to travel, since personal vacation days can be limited and the only other long holiday, the Spring Festival, is traditionally reserved for visiting family. As a result, Golden Week is notorious for hordes of visitors to popular tourist sites — more than 140,000 gathered in Beijing's Tiananmen Square to watch the flag raising ceremony on Oct. 1.