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Holiday trips within China surge after lifting of COVID-19 curbs

An estimated 226 million domestic trips were made by all means including plane during the Chinese New Year holiday week. 

Holiday trips within China surge after lifting of COVID-19 curbs

FILE PHOTO: People walk with their luggage at a railway station during the annual Spring Festival travel rush ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Shanghai, China January 16, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING: The number of people making trips inside China over the week-long Chinese New Year holiday surged 74 per cent from last year after authorities scrapped COVID-19 curbs that had stifled travel for three years, media reported on Saturday (Jan 28).

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday of the year in China, when huge numbers of people working in prosperous coastal cities head to their hometowns and villages for family reunions.

But for three years people were told not to travel during the holiday, with those who insisted facing the risk of snap lockdowns, multiple COVID-19 tests, quarantine and even admonishment by their work units.

An estimated 226 million domestic trips were made by all means, including planes, during the holiday week that ended on Friday, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing government figures.

That compares with about 130 million domestic trips during the holiday week last year, according to the transport ministry.

In the last Chinese New Year holiday before the novel coronavirus emerged in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan, about 420 million trips were made internally.

Passengers arrive at Hongqiao railway station in Shanghai on Jan 20, 2023, as people head back to their hometowns for Chinese New Year celebrations. (Photo: AFP/Hector Retamal)

As for travel abroad, inbound and outbound cross-border trips jumped 120.5 per cent from last year to 2.88 million, the National Immigration Administration said on Saturday.

During the Chinese New Year holiday in 2019, 12.53 million cross-border trips were made, the Xinhua news agency reported.

China abandoned its strict "zero COVID" policy in early December after protests against the restrictions, allowing people to travel and the virus to spread rapidly throughout the country.

Now that majority of the population had been infected, China has achieved herd immunity, Jiankang Shibao, a state-backed newspaper with a focus on health reported, citing Shanghai-based medical professor Fang Bangjiang.

On the economic outlook, analysts at Japanese brokerage Nomura said in a research note that holiday consumption of in-person services had recovered notably, as seen in the rebound in travel, but households were likely to be moderate in releasing pent-up demand, given their worsening balance sheets.

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Source: Reuters/zl


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