COVID dulls cross-provincial travels for May Day, but efforts to stimulate spending rolled out
Published: Apr 28, 2022 09:49 PM


As the third May Day holidays shadowed by the COVID-19 epidemic, cross-regional travel in China is expected to record a significant drop due to the country's largest Omicron-fueled epidemic wave that infected over 550,000 people nationwide inside a month. Multiple provinces have issued notices suggesting residents to not travel between provinces, making short-distance trips to outer fringes of major cities or neighboring localities a popular choice for many travel enthusiasts. 

While the domestic passenger volume is expected to plunge, tours within provinces, a delightful alternative for long-distance travels, is seeing a significant surge. Various locations have also rolled out consumption coupons that can be used offline and online to stimulate people's spending. 

At least nine provincial-level regions in China released notices in recent days addressing epidemic prevention for the May Day holidays, advising residents to not leave the region unless necessary. Individuals from medium- and high-risk regions are restricted from cross-regional travel.

Some locations are asking passengers to provide negative nucleic acid test results upon arrival, and report to the local health departments immediately. They may be issued a yellow health code, which de facto puts a brake on visiting restaurants, cinemas, and other public venues. 

As a result, China's passenger volume is expected to fall by 62 percent on a yearly basis during the upcoming May Day holidays, an official from Ministry of Transport said on Thursday, as the recent outbreaks have impacted public appetite for long-distance travel. 

China's civil aviation regulator forecast that the total number of passenger trips during the May Day holidays will be around 2 million, a decline of 77 percent compared to the same period last year.

Railway travel volume is also expected to be sluggish. The transport peak kicked off on Thursday, with a total of about 32 million rail passenger trips expected to be completed from Thursday through to May 5, a distinct gap compared with last year's number of 117 million trips, according to a document sent by the China Railway to the Global Times. 

At the press conference, the National Health Commission (NHC) asked travel agencies to avoid arranging trips to and from medium- and high-risk regions, and reminded the public to pay close attention to the dynamics of epidemic . 

With long-distance trips off the table for many, short-distance outings have become a popular choice. As shown in a report by Trip, the most popular online travel booking platform in China, 52 percent of the orders booked on the platform for the May Day travels are tours within travelers' home province. Among them, the percentage is even higher in South China's Guangdong Province and Southwest China's Sichuan Province, taking up nearly 80 percent, with local hotel bookings seeing a 30 percent surge. 

However, nationwide consumer spending is also expected to retain a sluggish state during this year's May Day holidays, industrial insiders and data showed.

A report sent by to the Global Times suggested that the booking price of hotels in cities like Ji'nan, Chengdu and Chongqing, popular travel destinations in China, hit the lowest point in nearly five years during May Day holiday period. Prices of certain luxury hotels in China's hot tourism cities like Hangzhou, Beijing and Sanya are only about half of last year's level, the report said. 

A home-stay owner surnamed He who's venue is near a famous domestic tourism site Yellow Mountain in East China's Anhui Province told the Global Times on Thursday that they have "no bookings" for this May Day holidays, when usually this time of the year could be a hot season for his business. Last year, his hotel was booked out about three weeks ahead of the holiday, He said. 

In a bid to stimulate spending and public sentiment in spite of restrictions, a number of cities have rolled out consumption coupons. Beijing had planned to issue more than 300 million yuan ($45.4 million) of consumption coupons to shopper from April to September.

Ningbo in East China's Zhejiang Province will issue more than 300 million yuan worth of consumption coupons between Thursday and May 31, the strongest and farthest reaching coupon issuance campaign in the city's history, with at least 100,000 businesses including shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurants joining the campaign.

Likewise, Guangdong's Shenzhen also announced that it would issue up to 500 million yuan worth of coupons to local residents via online platforms like and Meituan.