China’s golden week annual holiday centered on May 1 is typically a boon time for global tourism, as big-spending mainland tourists flock abroad. But not this year: the COVID pandemic will instead see an explosive surge in domestic travel as many countries remain locked down.
An estimated 265 million Chinese will spend their holidays domestically, government data show.
Spending on domestic travel and local consumption will peak during the golden week holiday season, according to a report jointly published by the state-owned Economic Daily and the Nasdaq-listed online shopping portal JD.com. Packages for family vacations, long trips and individual travelers are among the most popular items in the travel consumer market.
As of Monday, flight bookings on JD.com for golden week shot up by five times from a year earlier. Train bookings tripled.
Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian and Qingdao were the top five destinations by flight. Beijing, Wuhan, Qingdao, Chongqing and Chengzhou were the most popular by train.
Top tourist attractions have already recorded a peak in numbers. From May 1 to 3, for example, an average of 20,000 people a day visited the area around the Presidential Palace museum in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. Visitors had to line up for about an hour to enter the site.
The area around the Confucius Temple, another travel hotspot in Nanjing, had more than 380,000 visitors on Sunday. The number of daily visits on Monday was likely to surpass 300,000, according to mainland media. Tourists had to wait for more than two hours for seats at restaurants. Hotel rooms have also been fully booked.
In Inner Mongolia, travelers driving along a scenic mountain road in the Ulan Hada Volcano Geological Park found themselves stuck in tailbacks sometimes several kilometers long.
The strains placed on the tourism infrastructure frayed some tempers. Dozens of tourists at a popular scenic spot in Sichuan complained about the failure of one coach operator to lay on enough buses to cope with the surge in numbers. They encircled a coach and demanded their money back.
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