China's big 'Golden Week' is here. Three hot destinations for spending — and a stock with 95% upside


The appetite for travel in China has not diminished with the end summer. Golden Week is a holiday in mainland China that sees hundreds of millions of Chinese traveling by train and car. The holiday lasts for a week, from the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sept. 29, until the next Friday. In a country that typically gives workers only a few days of paid vacation each year, it’s rare to get the chance to go on a long-term holiday. A Bank of America September survey found that just over 60% of respondents would be increasing their travel budget to enjoy this holiday. A third of respondents stated that they would spend between 5,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan for each person. Another group, almost as large, said they would be spending 10,000 yuan up to 20,000. The report stated that this includes airfare and hotel costs. Where are they headed? In a separate Morgan Stanley survey conducted in August, people in China said that Hong Kong and southern province Hainan were their top shopping destinations when on vacation. Since the pandemic began, the government’s efforts to turn the island of Hainan in China into a duty free shopping center has paid off. People have stayed within the country. Morgan Stanley analysts are fans of CTG Duty Free, China’s duty-free retailing giant listed in Hong Kong. The analysts have an overweight rating for the Hong Kong listed shares with a target price of 145 Hong Kong Dollars — almost 44% higher than the closing stock price on Thursday. Morgan Stanley analysts stated in a report on September 18 that they found the trend encouraging: “1) shopping budgets are being reduced for outbound travel, but remain stable for domestic travel; and 2) Hainan is becoming a more popular destination for shopping.” Hainan’s luxury products are still being developed, but the tropical island continues to attract China’s rich for other reasons. “Hainan already won because of convenience.” Imke Wouters said that they are also winning in terms of scenery, shopping prices and hotels. In September, the firm surveyed 3,858 wealthy Chinese consumers. Oliver Wyman says that this category has a minimum household income of only 30,000 yuan, which represents just 5% of China’s population. The study concluded that the majority of Chinese spending on luxury goods will be in China in the short term. Casual luxury consumers have become more conservative due to economic concerns. The core luxury shoppers are also not that interested in shopping in Macau, but the survey respondents said Macau offers more entertainment than Hong Kong or Hainan. Macau is allowed to have casinos, but not mainland China. Morgan Stanley analysts note that the Macau gaming sector is trading at a lower valuation than its historical average, and the two biggest catalysts for the industry are the upcoming earnings reports and Golden Week. Morgan Stanley analysts have two Hong Kong-traded stocks that are overweight-rated in the gaming sector: MGM China, which has a 41% increase to its price target (14 Hong Kong Dollars) and Wynn Macau, which has a 35% rise to their target price of 10 Hong Kong Dollars. This is as of the close on Thursday. 95% upside Despite ending quarantine requirements for inbound flights and other Covid-19 restrictions about 10 months ago international flights from and to China remain below levels of 2019. Oliver Wyman, citing Chinese data said that international flights during Golden Week are 40% to 50% higher than they were in 2019. For the moment, people will travel more within mainland China. Morgan Stanley analysts stated that domestic hotel rates in China are still higher than 2019 levels. Two of the five hotels they cover have performed better than others based on RevPAR (revenue per available room). Morgan Stanley reported that H World had a 21% rise in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year, while Atour experienced a 14% growth. H World and Atour are both traded in the U.S. By Wednesday’s closing, H World’s share price was 51% higher than the analysts’ target price of $58. Atour’s price target of $36 was surpassed by 95%. If tourism performs as expected during Golden Week, this will provide a boost to China’s economy. Michael Bloom, a CNBC reporter, contributed to this article.