China sees travel frenzy at the start of Labor Day holiday

Published (HKT): 2021.05.02 06:10

Waves of visitors flooded tourist attractions across China on Saturday at the start of a five-day Labor Day holiday, as many were eager to venture out in relatively relaxed social distancing conditions.

Tens of thousands flocked to China’s Great Wall of Badaling, the most visited section of the landmark, prompting the area’s operator to issue a warning on Saturday morning that it had already reached its upper limit under social distancing requirements.

Online reservations for Saturday, Sunday and Monday already hit the daily cap of 48,000 visitors, the operator said. Hotels and restaurants in the area were expecting business to triple over the holiday period, according to mainland Chinese reports.

In Beijing, a tour guide at Tiananmen Square expected at least 100,000 people to make the trip to watch the flag-raising ceremony at daybreak. One tourist at the square said it was “too crowded” and expressed regret at picking the wrong time to go.

A video clip that went viral online showed a sea of people at West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Those renting boats out at the lake told local Chinese media that 90% of their boats had already been snapped up within an hour of opening for business in the morning.

Another video showed long queues forming outside the Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi’an in central Shaanxi province, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous Terracotta Warriors. One online commenter quipped that they saw more human heads than the actual statues of the warriors themselves.

At least 10 million domestic trips were expected to be made via train on Saturday, according to state-owned China Railway, an increase of 6.1% compared to 2019.

On Friday, 1.04 million trips were made in Jiangxi and Fujian province, an uptick of 18% and 3.93%, respectively, according to China Railway Nanchang Group.

Hotel bookings have also soared eightfold compared to 2020, and fourfold from 2019, data from online travel agency Qunar showed.

One staffer at Serenity Inn in Changsha, Hunan province, said rooms for the holiday period had already been filled up since March, with prices shooting up from 619 yuan (US$96) a night to 998 yuan.

A surge in domestic travels aside, many also headed to the cinemas at the beginning of the long holiday. Box office tickets for May 1 alone exceeded 200 million yuan, according to data from market platform piaofang.maoyan.com.

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