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China National Day: After Covid-19, hundreds of millions of people are about to go on vacation at the same time

Hong Kong (CNN) – China is moving again. By October 1st, hundreds of millions of people are expected to fill highways, trains and planes for the National Day holiday, one of the busiest times to travel in the world’s most populous country.

The eight-day holiday is the first major holiday in China since its departure from Corona Virus Outbreaks. While life has largely returned to normal in recent months, the upcoming “Golden Week” holiday will be an ambitious test of China’s success in taming the virus – and an expected boost to its economic recovery.
Last year, a total of 782 million domestic flights They were made during the holiday, generating nearly 650 billion yuan ($ 95 billion) in tourism revenue, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Tourists crowd Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan Province, China, during the National Day holiday in 2019.

Tourists crowd Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan Province, China, during the National Day holiday in 2019.

Liu Zhongjun / China News Service / VCG / Getty Images

The ministry Expect 550 million domestic trips will be made this year, while Ctrip, the largest online travel agency in China, estimates that the number is over. 600 million Both are above 70% of last year’s level.
The scale of the mass movement in such a short period of time is unimaginable in many parts of the world, as governments are still struggling to control the spread of infection. In the United States, the number of coronavirus cases exceeded 7 million over the weekend. A large part of Europe is now in a grip Second wave From infections even countries that largely survived the first wave, such as Greece and Croatia, saw a spike in cases as tourists took summer vacations after Europe’s internal borders reopened in June.

At the moment, however, the virus is not a major concern for Chinese tourists, given the near zero domestic transmission in China and some of the most stringent border control measures in the world.

Chen Qianmei, 29, from the southern city of Guangzhou, flew to Shanghai on Tuesday for her vacation. She said she was not worried about the virus, although she was still taking precautions.

“I think China (the virus) is under good control,” she said. “I wear masks and bring alcohol wipes with me to clean my hands, especially before eating – although few people in Shanghai now wear masks.”

Show confidence

Coronavirus, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan last December before spreading around the world, has been largely contained in China since March. In the following months, small-scale outbreaks erupted occasionally – from the country’s northeast to the capital, Beijing and the country’s far western region of Xinjiang, but all were quickly contained through strict lockdown measures and mass testing programs.

China has not reported any locally transmitted symptoms since mid-August, and is strictly screening overseas arrivals and workers at risk of contracting the virus. Last week, the first local infection without symptoms was discovered in more than a month, after workers at the port unloading imported frozen seafood in Qingdao tested positive for the virus in a routine examination.

Two residents walk through an empty park during the Lunar New Year holiday on January 27 in Wuhan, China.

Two residents walk through an empty park during the Lunar New Year holiday on January 27 in Wuhan, China.

Stringer / Getty Images

The feeling of control contrasts starkly with the anxiety and omission that overshadowed the last major travel period for China – the Lunar New Year holiday in late January. At the time, the coronavirus outbreak was sweeping Wuhan after local authorities initially silenced health care workers who were trying to sound the alarm. Two days before Lunar New Year’s Day, the Chinese government ordered an unprecedented lockdown of the city, but by then, the virus had already spread to other provinces and outside the country, with hundreds of millions of Chinese heading home to reunite or take their families. Vacations abroad.

After more than eight months have passed, all restrictions imposed by China on internal movement have been lifted. officially, Some cities still require passengers to produce a green zone Health code On their smartphones at train stations and airports to prove they are safe to travel, but implementation may be lenient in practice.
In a sign of the government’s confidence in keeping the virus under control, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention He said last week Domestic flights can be arranged “as usual” for the upcoming holiday, given that all cities in mainland China are classified as having low risk of contracting the Coronavirus.

But the center still recommends travelers adhere to local epidemic control measures, wear masks on trains and flights and in crowded places, and stay within 1 meter (3.2 feet) at tourist sites – the last of which may be difficult if not impossible to monitor, given the size of the crowds. Popular sites often flood during Chinese holidays.

Last week, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism ordered tourist sites to restrict capacity to 75% during the Golden Week, up from 50% over previous months. To facilitate contact tracing, visitors are required to register online in advance.

Wu Zhunyu, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC, Tell The state broadcaster CCTV said earlier this month that there is no need to impose additional restrictions on domestic travel during the National Day holiday, as the coronavirus is no longer circulating in the community.
“It is now impossible to catch the virus in social settings,” He said. “Although we still find dozens of imported cases among travelers who arrive in China on international flights, the incoming cases are managed in a closed loop and will not spread in the community, and thus will not have a major impact on the local population.”

Promote indoor travel

Chinese authorities – including the CDC and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs – have urged Chinese citizens to avoid unnecessary travel abroad, citing the epidemic that continues to rage around the world.

The Golden Week holiday – the longest in China besides the Lunar New Year holiday – has traditionally seen middle-class Chinese people travel abroad in large numbers. Last year, more than 7 million overseas trips Made during the holiday, Japan and Thailand were among the main destinations, government data showed.
Chinese tourists wait for their tour bus at the Ginza shopping district on October 02, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.

Chinese tourists wait for their tour bus at the Ginza shopping district on October 02, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tomohiro Osumi / Getty Images AsiaPac / Getty Images

But this year, it will be virtually impossible to take overseas flights, given the various visa restrictions and quarantine requirements imposed around the world, as well as the lack of international flights. On their return to China, travelers must also face two weeks of strict quarantine – with at least half of the time spent in government-designated hotels.

The only exception is Macau, which waived quarantine requirements in July for mainland travelers who had tested negative for the coronavirus within seven days. Last week, mainland China fully resumed tourist visas for the semi-autonomous region, just in time for the National Day holiday.

As Chinese vacationers turn to domestic destinations, local governments are competing to attract tourists. According to CtripMore than 20 regional governments and municipalities issued travel vouchers, while about 1,500 tourist sites across China offered free or discount tickets.
China Railway Corporation, China State Railway Group, forecast a total 108 million train journeys from From September 28 to October 8 to meet the growing demand, an additional 1,200 trains were added to the service, but some tickets were cut along the popular routes anyway.
Some trips were also sold. Qunar, a Chinese online travel booking website, appreciate More than 15 million domestic airline tickets will be sold for the Golden Week, an increase of 10% from 2019, due in part to lower airline ticket prices.
On Chinese highways, massive traffic jams are expected again this year. Average 51 million highway rides Each day is expected to be an eight-day holiday, up 1% to 3% from last year, according to the Transportation Department.
Wuhan, the original epicenter of the outbreak, has become a popular destination for Chinese tourists since it lifted its lockdown in April. Last month, Hubei Province, its capital, Wuhan, Advertise Close to 400 attractions will be open to tourists for free until the end of the year. On the reservation platform the province has set up since the announcement, more than 3.74 million tickets to tourist spots in Wuhan have been booked in just over a month, according to the state. Hobby Daily.
The Yellow Crane TowerOne of the popular attractions in Wuhan topped the list of the most popular attractions for Golden Week, according to Ctrip.

Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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