China’s tourist traffic ‘warms up’ as destinations open up amid contained COVID-19 situation

By Chu Daye Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/3 17:33:40

Tourists visit Sanfang Qixiang, a well-preserved historical architectural complex, in Fuzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province, May 1, 2020, the first day of the International Labor Day holiday. (Xinhua/Lin Shanchuan)

China's tourism sector is "warming up," media reports showed, citing data recorded in the first several days of the May Day holidays, as China cautiously reopened its tourism industry on the first major public holiday period since the COVID-19 outbreak began. 

The first three days of this year's 5-day-long May Day holidays saw a combined tourist volume of 85 million, raising hopes for a recovery of the nation's 6 trillion yuan ($850 billion) tourism sector, which has been one of the hardest hit during the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Initial data disclosed by media reports showed that 84.99 million tourists hit the road from Friday to Sunday, generating a combined total of 35.06 billion yuan in tourism revenue across the country, according to information released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The revenue figure already exceeded the 8.26 billion yuan generated by the 3-day-long Qingming Festival in April.

The tourist number trajectory seems to be on par with the 2019 level, and is going well to meet the projected 100 million estimated by online tour operator Ctrip, seen as an encouraging sign by some.

In the 4-day-long May Day holidays in 2019, tourist numbers totaled 195 million while tourist revenue hit 117.67 billion yuan.

In Hubei Province, where the coronavirus infections were first reported, 22 out of the 25 tourist sites reopened during the holiday. On Friday, the first day of the holidays, a total of 109,664 tourists were recorded, spending some 6.79 million yuan. 

"I saw more people on May 1 than any other day in the past several months [since the epidemic struck]," a tourist industry insider told the Global Times.

At Wuhan's Donghu scenic area, the May Day holiday caused a 207.69% rise in the number of tourists, according to domestic news portal Total tourists visits in the first two days exceeded 300,000, according to local government.

Some 70 percent of China's 8,498 above A-level tourist sites have reopened as of Friday, but as the epidemic still lingers, destinations have restricted their daily admittance through an online reservation system. The maximum admittance varied from 30 percent of pre-epidemic levels. 

Zhang Lingyun, director of the Tourism Development Academy at Beijing Union University, said this May Day holidays will only be a transitional one in terms of how the tourism industry is getting back on its feet.

"The pandemic has not ended, and we should see this holiday as one in which people are desperate to get some fresh air but not one as to generate serious tourism dollars, considering the many necessary restrictions," Zhang said. 

More people are only running short excursions rather than inter-provincial travel, let alone traveling abroad, Zhang said, noting that tourist spending from this May Day holidays is expected to be limited. 

On Saturday, 130 tourist sites in Shanghai received 633,000 people, down 61.3 percent year-on-year, according to media reports. The figure, though, is 38.8 percent more than what was recorded on Friday.

Hong Kong received only 119 tourists from the Chinese mainland on Friday.

Tourist destinations have reopened in an orderly fashion, following the principles of visiting upon reservation, limited opening-up and avoiding peak times, Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission, said at a press conference on Sunday.  

Mi urged social distancing should still be observed.

Worldwide, many states in the US have resumed work. But the pandemic kept threatening the process with multiple US meat processors reporting COVID-19 cluster infections. 

Posted in: ECONOMY

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