BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- At noon outside Makai Restaurant in central Beijing, a long queue of eager customers could be seen almost every day over the past two weeks, as businesses continue to revive following China's optimization of its COVID-19 response.
"At rush hours during the Spring Festival (from Jan. 21-27), diners needed to wait for a long time for tables to clear, while dining booths were fully booked well ahead of the Lantern Festival (on Feb. 5)," said Lyu Yongjie, manager of the restaurant.
China's catering industry is seeing a strong rebound and the Spring Festival tourism market also boomed, following relaxation in the COVID-19 response and also thanks to a government rollout of a spate of measures aimed at spurring consumption.
During the Spring Festival holiday, China's dine-in consumption increased by 15.4 percent from the previous year, with average consumption per restaurant rising by 10.8 percent year on year, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
"There used to be a line only around dinnertime, but during the Spring Festival the line existed almost all day long," said Sha Jingjing, manager of a hot-pot restaurant in eastern Beijing.
In Grand Tang Dynasty Ever Bright City, a commercial pedestrian area in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the street was packed with people and long lines formed outside several well-known Xi'an restaurants during the holiday.
Le Yuquan, an operations supervisor for a local catering company, said his restaurant has been running at maximum capacity since the Spring Festival holiday. Many customers are tourists looking for authentic local tastes.
Booming tourism has fueled a significant increase in catering consumption from non-locals. In southwest China's Sichuan Province, one-third of customers are from outside the province, driving up daily average consumption by 43 percent compared to last year, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
The boom is also evident in the food delivery market. Data from major online delivery platform Meituan showed that the number of merchants offering Spring Festival-related dishes this year had increased by 37 percent compared to last year, with their sales of dishes surging 71.23 percent over the same period in 2022.
The government has launched campaigns aimed at spurring catering consumption. For example, China's southern boomtown Shenzhen issued 100 million yuan (about 14.7 million U.S. dollars) worth of coupons during the Spring Festival holiday, to stimulate consumption in the catering sector.
Li Xinjian, executive dean of the capital culture and tourism development institute of Beijing International Studies University, said that this year's sizzling Spring Festival consumption bodes well for the year as whole, and has boosted confidence in strong consumption in 2023.