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600M fan out as China marks holiday

Hundreds of millions in China hustled to enjoy their first major national holiday since the country beat its coronavirus outbreak, filling airports and train stations on Thursday.

The Golden Week holiday marks the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and sees an astonishing annual movement of people trying to get home or take holidays.

More than 600 million trips will be taken during the holiday, down 20 percent from a year ago, the country’s biggest travel agency, Ctrip, estimated, but they will still force the state railway to lay on 1,000 extra trains a day.

Around 108 million passengers will take trains during the eight-day holidays – around 13.5 million a day.

They are likely to bring much-needed spending to far-flung parts of China – last year, travelers spent $9.5 billion during the Golden Week.

Many will take luxury holidays at home, travel operator Quanar said, amid global travel restrictions.

This year has added significance, with the crowds filling the concourses pointing to a country rebounding from the outbreak and parading the freedom to travel as a contrast to the rolling lockdowns hitting much of the world.

“Normally, we would take a family holiday abroad... but this year we opted for a staycation instead,” said Niu Honglin from Shanghai.

Niu booked rooms in a boutique hotel near Shanghai Disneyland but quickly encountered the problem of millions of extra tourists hunting fun at home. 

“My daughter had to wait in line for nearly three hours to get on a ride,” she said.

Domestic travel has sprung back to life and given the economy a boost after the virus shuttered businesses and scared away tourists following its emergence in Wuhan late last year.

“People are travelling with a vengeance!” said Huo Binxing, a banker from Beijing who is heading to Lhasa in Tibet.

“It’s our first chance to unwind after such a stressful period.”

Wuhan in central China is back in business too, with visitors thronging to the Yellow Crane Tower – a Taoist shrine – according to Ctrip.

But some have scrapped plans as the virus continues to seed anxiety.

Topics: China , Holiday , Golden Week , People’s Republic of China , Huo Binxing
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