Ticket bookings foretell explosive tourism for May Day holidays in China
Published: Apr 16, 2021 06:03 PM
Tourists wait for their trains at Hangzhou East Railway Station on Tuesday as the 5-day May Day holiday ends. Photo: VCG

Tourists wait for their trains at Hangzhou East Railway Station on Tuesday as the 5-day May Day holiday ends. Photo: VCG

Train tickets to some of the most popular destinations for this year's May Day holiday sold out the moment they became available, causing platforms to temporarily crash, foretelling an explosive holiday season starting on May 1. 

According to, an online travel agency, train tickets departing on April 30 has already sold out for several popular routes, including from Beijing to beach resort Beidaihe, and from Xi'an in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province to Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan. Changsha in Central China's Hunan and Wuhan in Hubei and Chongqing are among the destinations in top demand. 

The demand on Friday for booking holiday tickets was so high that the surging traffic caused a temporary crash on the official booking website 

"I tried wearing and taking off my glasses, binding and not binding my hair, and walked to the brighter living room to pass the facial recognition check on the app, but failed five or six times," a Beijing resident surnamed Zhang told the Global Times on Friday. 

"Only when I browsed social media did I realize it wasn't my problem, it was that 12306 was down," Zhang said. She was trying to purchase a ticket to her hometown, Luoyang in Central China's Henan Province, which also has many historical sites and tourist spots.

Apart from railway travels, China's domestic civil aviation industry has also come up with a vengeance, based on bookings for the coming holiday. According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the five-day May Day holiday will "fully release" the transportation demand in China that had been previously suppressed by the pandemic. 

The CAAC estimates that, based on current bookings, both the volume and prices of tickets will significantly surpass the level from the same period in 2019. It also advised that passengers avoid travelling on peak days of the holiday, which fall on first and last days of the May Day holiday; that is, on April 30, May 1 and May 5. 

The spike in domestic travel, compared to international flight routes that are still mired in global travel restrictions, has led China's airline companies to shift most of their resources to domestic flights. At the end of March, a total of 322 flight routes were added to the summer and autumn operation seasons. 

Tourism and travel have mostly resumed to pre-pandemic levels in China. China's civil flight passenger volume increased 216 percent to 47.8 million trips in March, according to CAAC. Domestic trips in March have recovered to the same level in the same period of 2019, and total trips in Q1 increased 38 percent.

 "The worst days for the civil aviation industry have passed," market watcher Qi Qi said, "and with the full recovery of the economy, airline companies are expected to see their profits grow in leaps and bounds as people's demand for domestic travel resumes."

However, as profits and demand resume, Chinese airlines' "fly freely" programs, unveiled during the pandemic, are facing online backlash among consumers, who said that they can't redeem their rewards as promised now that demand is rebounding. The CAAC urged companies to improve their services and protect customers' rights during a press conference held on Friday.

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