Trip.com says hotel bookings in China surpass pre-pandemic levels

BEIJING — Hotel bookings in China have topped pre-pandemic levels since late June, booking site Trip.com said Thursday.

Shares of Trip.com briefly fell more than 7% on Thursday in Hong Kong, before recovering slightly to close down 4.5%. New York-listed shares fell 8.5% overnight, but rose 2.5% in extended trading.

“Overall, our booking of hotels in China on our platform rebounded quickly and [have] exceeded pre-Covid levels from late June,” Cindy Xiaofan Wang, chief financial officer of Trip.com, said during an earnings call Thursday morning.

“Total domestic hotel bookings were approximately 20% above the 2019 level in July, and we continued to grow from the 2019 level in August and achieved hyper growth from 2021,” said she declared.

This growth came despite continued sporadic shutdowns and travel restrictions across China to control Covid outbreaks. Tens of thousands of tourists were stranded in the resort town of Hainan province in August due to Covid control measures which canceled transport off the island.

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Trip.com said that in the last quarter, same-city hotel bookings were up 30% from 2019 levels.

However, Wang said the number of domestic air passengers “has dropped by 70% to 80% from the 2019 level in recent weeks.”

Trip.com reported second-quarter revenue of 4.01 billion yuan ($572.9 million), beating expectations of 3.58 billion yuan, according to FactSet. Revenue from accommodation bookings and transportation tickets both beat FactSet’s estimates.

However, overall second quarter revenue was down 32% from the same period a year ago and down 2% from the prior quarter. The company said the decline was “primarily due to continued disruptions resulting from the resurgence of Covid-19 in China.”

International business boom

For the China-based company, its international offerings have proven to be a positive.

“Trip.com’s growth was primarily driven by the strong resumption of international flights, and we are pleased to see this momentum continue in the third quarter,” Wang said, noting that those airline ticket bookings in July were up. close to 90% of 2019 levels.

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In the second quarter, hotel bookings in the same country outside China quadrupled from 2019 levels, she said.

By region, revenue from the European and US markets have already surpassed 2019 levels, Wang said.

Much of the world has eased many Covid travel restrictions, while China has maintained a strict, so-called zero-Covid dynamic policy.

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