Millions of Chinese are traveling across the country in a period of “revenge tourism” after nearly a year of quarantines, lockdowns and restrictions on their movement.
The Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism expects about 550 million people to make trips to the country during the eight public holidays marking both the Mid-Autumn Festival and the Chinese National Day.
Photos posted to social media on Tuesday, the first day of the national holiday, showed tourist spots crowded with visitors and stations occupied by worried passengers. On the forums, internet users complained that hotels and tickets to tourist sites were full or that traffic made it impossible to travel. “Congestion is inevitable,” said a commentator on Weibo. “Better to stay home.”
Hotel bookings for popular destinations like Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan Province or Sanya in Hainan, a southern island, have doubled, according to travel booking site Qunar. Travel sites have been battling for customers with discounts as airlines have added new routes to meet demand. Over 500 scenic spots across the country offer free entry or discounts to visitors.
Officials are keen to encourage this pent-up demand, described by state media as “revenge tourism” or “revenge travel” during the annual holiday known as Golden Week, traditionally a prime time travel season. and expenses. Spending over the next eight days will be a key indicator of China’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
State newspaper Economic Information Daily described this year’s vacation as a “critical battle” for the tourism industry. Commentators say this marks the start of Chinese consumers’ “revenge spending”.
“After more than six months of epidemic prevention and control work, the holidays will see a real ‘national movement,’ Xu Xiaolei, marketing director at a tour operator called CYTS Tours, told the Global Times.
The authorities have placed their hopes for an economic recovery on Chinese consumers, as part of the “dual circulation” policy promoted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a means of isolating the country from trade disputes and other external risks.
While China has largely contained the virus with no new locally transmitted case in nearly two months, the effects of months of paralysis persist, with many residents strapped for cash or out of work.
The volume of domestic tourism officials forecast for this year’s Golden Week is still lower than last year, when nearly 800 million people traveled across the country. Some residents said they weren’t going anywhere. On Weibo, one user said: “I also want revenge [travel] But I have no money. “