In what appears to be the clearest sign yet of the coronavirus outbreak having abated in China, where it first emerged late last year, millions of Chinese are travelling within the country for the May Day holidays.
Over 50 million trips were made in the first two days of the five-day holiday, state media reports said, adding that an estimated 90 million trips are expected to be completed by the end of holidays on Tuesday.Of the 50 million trips, nearly 23 million domestic tourist trips were made by Friday, the first day of the holiday, with the domestic tourism revenue reaching over 9.7 billion yuan (about $1.38 billion), according to the ministry of culture and tourism (MCT).
The increase in domestic tourism comes after China lowered its epidemic emergency response to the second or lower categories from the most serious one.
A total of 8,498 A-level tourist attractions across the country were opened to the public by Friday, covering about 70 percent of the total, said the ministry.
The surge in tourism comes in the backdrop of a dramatic drop in Covid-19 cases in China, including in the once worst-hit Hubei province, and its capital Wuhan city, where the virus first emerged late last year.
Chinese health authority on Sunday said that it received reports of two new confirmed Covid-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Saturday, including an imported case.
As of Saturday, the overall confirmed cases on the mainland reached 82,877 and altogether 4,633 people had died of the disease, the National Health Commission (NHC) said.
Authorities, however, are keeping a cap on the number of tourists – usually at around 30 percent – at many tourist places.
Marking this significant trend for the nation, China’s big cities seems to be leading the surge in tourism
After Beijing moved to announce that it would lower the public health emergency response from level one to level two effective April 30, flight bookings went up.
The ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) is hoping that the increase in domestic tourism will be among the first steps to boost the economy, which contracted year-on-year for the first time in more than four decades in the first quarter of 2020.
Despite the increase in tourism over the weekend, it remains much lower than corresponding volumes for other years – both the volume and revenue are expected to contract despite an extra-day of holiday this year.
“China saw 195 million tourist trips during the four-day holiday that ended on Saturday, a year-on-year increase of 13.7 percent, according to the MCT. The surge of travelers pushed tourism revenue to almost 117.67 billion yuan ($17.5 billion) nationwide, a 16.1 percent increase over last year,” the state-controlled China Daily reported in 2019.