China’s ‘zero-COVID’ restrictions curb May 1 holiday travel


BEIJING (AP) — Many Chinese are marking a quiet May Day holiday this year as the government’s“zero-COVID” approach restricts travel and enforces lockdowns in multiple cities.

All restaurants in Beijing are closed to dine-in customers from Sunday through the end of the holiday on Wednesday, open only for takeout and delivery. Parks and tourist attractions in the Chinese capital are limited to half capacity. The Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, which opened last year, said it had shut down temporarily.

The pandemic situation varies across the vast nation of 1.4 billion people, but the Transport Ministry said last week that it expected 100 million trips to be taken from Saturday to Wednesday, which would be down 60% from last year. Many of those who are traveling are staying within their province as local governments discourage or restrict cross-border travel to try to keep out new infections.

China is sticking to a strict “zero-COVID” policy even as many other countries are easing restrictions and seeing if they can live with the virus. Much of Shanghai— China’s largest city and a finance, manufacturing and shipping hub — remains locked down, disrupting people’s lives and dealing a blow to the economy.

The major outbreak in Shanghai, where the death toll has topped 400, appears to be easing. The city recorded about 7,200 new locally transmitted cases on Saturday, down from a peak of 27,605 on April 13. Outside of Shanghai, only 364 new cases were found in the rest of mainland China.

Beijing, which has tallied about 300 cases in the past nine days, is restricting activity to try to prevent a large outbreak and avoid a citywide lockdown similar to Shanghai. Individual buildings and housing complexes with coronavirus cases have been sealed off. Visitors to many office buildings and tourist sites such as the Great Wall must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 48 hours.

Online booking agency Ctrip said last week that people were booking travel to cities that were mostly free of the virus, such as Chengdu in Sichuan province and nearby Chongqing. Other popular destinations included Wuhan, where the world’s first major outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in early 2020. About half the orders on the Ctrip platform were for travel within a province.



Source link

China’s ‘zero-COVID’ restrictions curb May 1 holiday travel


Many Chinese are marking a quiet May Day holiday this year as the government’s “zero-COVID” approach restricts travel and enforces lockdowns in multiple cities

BEIJING — Many Chinese are marking a quiet May Day holiday this year as the government’s “zero-COVID” approach restricts travel and enforces lockdowns in multiple cities.

All restaurants in Beijing are closed to dine-in customers from Sunday through the end of the holiday on Wednesday, open only for takeout and delivery. Parks and tourist attractions in the Chinese capital are limited to 50% of their capacity. The Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, which opened last year, said it had shut down temporarily.

The pandemic situation varies across the vast nation of 1.4 billion people, but the Transport Ministry said last week that it expected 100 million trips to be taken from Saturday to Wednesday, which would be down 60% from last year. Many of those who are traveling are staying within their province as local governments discourage or restrict cross-border travel to try to keep out new infections.

China is sticking to a strict “zero-COVID” policy even as many other countries are easing restrictions and seeing if they can live with the virus. Much of Shanghai — China’s largest city and a finance, manufacturing and shipping hub — remains locked down, disrupting people’s lives and dealing a blow to the economy.

The major outbreak in Shanghai, where the death toll has topped 400, appears to be easing. The city recorded 7,872 new locally transmitted cases on Saturday, down from more than 20,000 a day in recent weeks. Outside of Shanghai, only 384 new cases were found in the rest of mainland China.

Beijing, which has tallied 321 cases in the past nine days, is restricting activity to try to prevent a large outbreak and avoid a city-wide lockdown similar to Shanghai. Individual buildings and housing complexes with coronavirus cases have been locked down. Visitors to many office buildings and tourist sites such as the Great Wall must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 48 hours.

Online booking agency Ctrip said last week that people were booking travel to cities that were mostly virus-free, such as Chengdu in Sichuan province and the nearby city of Chongqing. Other popular destinations included Wuhan, where the world’s first major outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in early 2020. About half the orders on the Ctrip platform were for travel within a province.



Source link

China’s Zero-COVID Restrictions Curb May 1 Holiday Travel | World News


BEIJING (AP) — Many Chinese are marking a quiet May Day holiday this year as the government’s zero-COVID approach restricts travel and enforces lockdowns in multiple cities.

All restaurants in Beijing are closed to dine-in customers from Sunday through the end of the holiday on Wednesday, open only for takeout and delivery. Parks and tourist attractions in the Chinese capital are limited to 50% of their capacity. The Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, which opened last year, said it had shut down temporarily.

The pandemic situation varies across the vast nation of 1.4 billion people, but the Transport Ministry said last week that it expected 100 million trips to be taken from Saturday to Wednesday, which would be down 60% from last year. Many of those who are traveling are staying within their province as local governments discourage or restrict cross-border travel to try to keep out new infections.

China is sticking to a strict zero-COVID policy even as many other countries are easing restrictions and seeing if they can live with the virus. Much of Shanghai — China’s largest city and a finance, manufacturing and shipping hub — remains locked down, disrupting people’s lives and dealing a blow to the economy.

The major outbreak in Shanghai, where the death toll has topped 400, appears to be easing. The city recorded 7,872 new locally transmitted cases on Saturday, down from more than 20,000 a day in recent weeks. Outside of Shanghai, only 384 new cases were found in the rest of mainland China.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

Political Cartoons

Beijing, which has tallied 321 cases in the past nine days, is restricting activity to try to prevent a large outbreak and avoid a city-wide lockdown similar to Shanghai. Individual buildings and housing complexes with coronavirus cases have been locked down. Visitors to many office buildings and tourist sites such as the Great Wall must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 48 hours.

Online booking agency Ctrip said last week that people were booking travel to cities that were mostly virus-free, such as Chengdu in Sichuan province and the nearby city of Chongqing. Other popular destinations included Wuhan, where the world’s first major outbreak of COVID-19 occurred in early 2020. About half the orders on the Ctrip platform were for travel within a province.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Source link

China’s Travel Industry Hurt by Continued COVID-19 Measures


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to strongly affect China’s tourism industry.

As a result, provinces are cutting prices for travel. They are offering tax reductions and even asking local people to help save an industry that provides millions of people with jobs.

Official data shows that the drop in tourism has continued this year because of additional COVID-related restrictions on travel. New lockdowns and mass testing also appear to be playing a part.

The southern provinces of Yunnan and Hainan are especially struggling. They depend on tourism earnings to grow their economies. Northern parts of the country that have a shorter season of warm weather are also hurting.

The tourism situation has become more severe in recent months as the Omicron version of the virus has spread. Tourism made up over 11 percent of China’s gross domestic product in 2019 and supported nearly 80 million jobs.

Tian Yun is a former economist at the state economic planning agency. Tian expected inter-province trips to increase during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday in early June.

But, Tian said, “If inter-province trips are banned during the Dragon Boat Festival, this year’s tourism… will be in chaos.”

A continued lack of tourism may remove at least 0.5 percentage points from China’s 2022 economic growth, Tian said. The government expects the economy to grow by 5.5 percent this year.

Cancellations and cuts in air travel are among the reasons people are not traveling. The number of weekly flights inside China is about 35,000. That is the lowest number since the year 2000.

Official data shows that tourists from other parts of the country made up five percent of visitors at popular places across China during the recent holiday honoring ancestors.

Hohhot is the capital of the northern Chinese area of Inner Mongolia. It is known for its grasslands. During the recent holiday, the number of tourist trips there fell by half. Earnings from tourism fell 53.5 percent compared to a year earlier.

The southern island province of Hainan, called China’s Hawaii, also had decreased gains from tourism. The number of tourist trips to Sanya, a beach area in Hainan, dropped 99 percent during the holiday, official numbers showed.

Dependence on local people

Local visitors helped lift the number of tourist trips to Ningxia, a poor area dependent on tourism in northwest China.

Ningxia has provided its local population with passes to more than 60 scenic areas for $31. That is a huge price drop compared to normal costs. Even with higher visitor numbers during the recent three-day holiday, earnings sank 16.3 percent compared to one year earlier.

Gu Xuebo is a Ningxia driver and guide. He told Reuters reporters that locals use their own cars and can drive to scenic spots on their own. He added that there is also no demand for hotel rooms among local visitors.

Gu said his 14-seat vehicle has mostly remained unused since August. This year, Gu has had just two clients.

“Several drivers who had worked with me for six, seven years have all switched to other jobs,” said Gu.

Bookings at Desert Star Hotel in Ningxia’s Shapotou Scenic Zone are down 70 percent from a year earlier.

“Tourists from other provinces cannot come here, so we have to rely on local tourists,” said a hotel worker named Zhang. “It’s better than having no one.”

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Reuters reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English.

____________________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

tourism – n. the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment for people who are traveling

province n. a large area of a some countries that has its own local government

gross domestic product (GDP) – n. the total value of the goods and services produced by the people of a nation during a year not including the value of income earned in foreign countries

chaos – n. complete confusion and disorder

scenic –adj. having, providing, or relating to a pleasing or beautiful view of natural scenery

client –n. someone who pays for services provided by a business

rely –v. to depend on something or someone; to need

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.



Source link

China’s ‘zero-COVID’ strategy failing to hold back coronavirus in Shanghai as U.S. warns against travel


NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Shanghai, a city of more than 26 million, reported about 26,000 new COVID-19 cases on Monday as China’s draconian “zero-COVID” strategy has failed to hold back the omicron BA.2 subvariant despite a weeks-long lockdown. 

The surge in cases, which is the largest China has reported since the original outbreak in Wuhan in late 2019, comes as the U.S. State Department warned Americans against traveling to parts of China due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws and COVID-19-related restrictions,” and even “the risk of parents and children being separated.”

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian defended the “zero-COVID” strategy on Monday, saying that the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party will help Shanghai “bring the epidemic under control.”

“China’s anti-epidemic policy is in keeping with its national realities, meets the need for combating COVID-19, works effectively and contributes significantly to the global fight against the pandemic,” Zhao said at a press conference on Monday. 

NATO SAYS FOR THE FIRST TIME IT MUST INCLUDE CHINA’S ‘GROWING INFLUENCE’ IN ITS DEFENSE STRATEGY

Shanghai has been in lockdown for about three weeks with residents forbidden from leaving their homes, but will start lifting restrictions for some areas under a tiered system this week. 

China also closed off new arrivals to Guangzhou, a manufacturing hub of about 18 million northwest of Shanghai. 

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, workers labor at the site of a temporary hospital being constructed at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) in east China's Shanghai, Friday, April 8, 2022. 

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, workers labor at the site of a temporary hospital being constructed at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) in east China’s Shanghai, Friday, April 8, 2022. 
(Ding Ting/Xinhua via AP)

Former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield suggested that what’s happening in China may actually be “highly underreported.”

“I think you’ve seen now that China’s zero tolerance for COVID didn’t seem to work with their huge outbreaks in Hong Kong and now Shanghai,” Dr. Redfield told “America’s Newsroom” on Monday. “I think, and related to deaths and infection, I just think it’s very difficult to know what accurate reporting we’re seeing.”

CHINA ACCUSES US, TAIWAN OFFICIALS OF ‘PLAYING WITH FIRE’ WITH UKRAINE COMPARISONS

Residents throughout Shanghai have taken to the social media app Weibo to appeal for food amid a lack of takeout services and a lack of fresh supplies, Radio Free Asia reports. 

Customers look through empty shelves at a supermarket in Shanghai, China, on March 30, 2022. 

Customers look through empty shelves at a supermarket in Shanghai, China, on March 30, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Chen Si, File)

People have also been denied care for non-coronavirus related needs, such as a Shanghai nurse who died from asthma after she was turned away from an emergency room and a 77-year-old man with kidney disease who died after being denied dialysis treatment, according to Human Rights Watch. 

A recent video purporting to show Shanghai residents begging for food from their locked down apartments went viral.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Denying people’s human rights in the name of addressing the new spike in Covid cases is counterproductive,” Human Rights Watch senior China researcher Yaqiu Wang said last week. “The authorities should listen to people’s pleas and provide appropriate health care for all those in need.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



Source link

Yuncheng Salt Lake, China’s very own ‘Dead Sea’


(CNN) — Xiechi Lake, also known as Yuncheng Salt Lake in China’s Shanxi province, has become popular on Instagram and other social media websites in recent years thanks to eye-popping aerial photographs of its colorful surface.

Now, China wants to convert that online popularity into real-life tourism.

First step: advertise it to Chinese domestic travelers.

Recent tourism campaigns on Chinese social media sites including Weibo and WeChat refer to Xiechi as “China’s Dead Sea” and tout both its beauty and its healing properties.

“As the Chinese version of Israel’s Dead Sea, floating here is an unforgettable experience, and one you can’t find anywhere else,” reads a tourism ad sponsored by the appropriately named Yuncheng Salt Lake (China’s Dead Sea) Tourism Development Co. LTD.

One accolade stands out as a sign of the lake’s endorsement at the highest levels: Xiechi Lake was featured in a 2019 Chinese TV special celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
Salt crystals form on the top of Xiechi Lake.

Salt crystals form on the top of Xiechi Lake.

Alamy

How the wonder was formed

There are three kinds of salt lakes in the world: carbonate, chloride and sulfate. The Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake in Utah are both chloride lakes. Yuncheng, however, falls into the last group.

“If the sulfate in your water is greater than the calcium, all the calcium is used up, which leaves you with an excess of sulfate and you have a sulfate lake,” explains Hong Kong Baptist University geography professor Bernie Owen.

Xiechi is also a “closed basin” lake — meaning it doesn’t flow out to a river or ocean — which explains how its salt content stays so high.

“Water comes in with salt, water escapes, salt stays behind, more water comes in with salt, evaporation. Salt stays behind,” Owen explains. “There’s no outlet on this one. It will just gradually become saltier and saltier and saltier.”

But what about those gorgeous colors that have made the lake so popular with photographers? They have to do with the species of animals and plants living in the water.

“if you’ve got brine shrimps, you tend to get red colors,” says Owen. “There’s a microscopic animal called a rotifer, and that will give a purple color. Purples you (also) tend to get with green algae. And then greens or oranges (occur) in very saline lakes.”

It is possible for salt lakes to freeze over, although not as quickly as other lakes — after all, think about what happens when we spread salt over icy roads. Saltwater freezes at lower temperatures than freshwater.

An aerial view of Xiechi Lake

An aerial view of Xiechi Lake

Xue Jun/Alamy

A lake becomes a star

In an effort to boost Xiechi Lake’s international profile, China is reportedly taking steps to get it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In a 2019 WeChat post, Luo Huining, party secretary of Shanxi Province, announced that local officials had begun the application process.

“Yuncheng Salt Lake is the crystallization of Chinese culture and civilization. The salt lake has positive significance for promoting our cultural confidence and heritage,” he said at the time.

China has heavily focused on UNESCO bids, which can be expensive and time-consuming, as a way to confer international legitimacy on its many historical and natural wonders.

Currently, China has 56 such World Heritage sites, placing it second only to Italy on the total list. That feat is even more impressive considering that the country’s first crop of UNESCO designations — which included the Great Wall and Forbidden City — only came in 1987.

Two more such recognitions would tie China with Italy for the top spot on the UNESCO list.

There’s some good news for wannabe travelers who hope to visit Xiechi Lake — it isn’t yet as popular or crowded as other tourist spots in China.

Tiger Li of travel company Diverse China tells CNN that he has only organized a few visits there. Nearly all the visitors so far have been Chinese domestic travelers.

That is likely to remain unchanged as long as China remains mostly closed to international tourism. The country closed its borders in early 2020 and remains one of the few destinations in the world still adhering to a “zero Covid” strategy that includes very strict quarantine policies.

“Besides the scenery, I think the mud bath and other experiences are the key reason they go (to Xiechi Lake),” Li says.

According to a statement from the Yuncheng city government, Xiechi Lake contains black mud with restorative and healing properties — just like the Dead Sea.

The document goes on to claim that people can float along the surface of the water without sinking — also, coincidentally, just like the Dead Sea.



Source link

China’s Tianjin Tightens Control Over Travel After Omicron Cases | World News


BEIJING (Reuters) – The northern Chinese city of Tianjin tightened exit controls and is requiring residents to obtain approval from employers or community authorities before leaving town in an effort to block the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The port city to the southeast of Beijing reported 21 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms on Sunday, the National Health Commission said on Monday, up from three a day earlier.

Tianjin, with around 14 million residents, said over the weekend it detected two local cases of infection with the Omicron. The source of the infections and route to the community remained unclear, and officials had yet to announce how many other local cases were caused by Omicron.

The highly transmissable Omicron variant is rapidly spreading globally, forcing several countries to tighten travel rules, and presents a heightened challenge to China’s efforts to quickly extinguish local outbreaks.

China’s quick containment strategy has taken on extra urgency in the run-up to the Winter Olympics, to be staged in Beijing and neighbouring Hebei province starting Feb. 4, and with the Lunar New Year holiday travel season beginning later this month.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

Tianjin’s mass testing scheme, which it aims to complete in two days, is part of its effort to “resolutely prevent the virus spreading to other provinces, regions and cities, especially Beijing”, the city government said in a letter to residents on Monday.

Last year, China hosted several foreign diplomatic delegations in Tianjin instead of Beijing, including those from the United States. The city is also one of north China’s most important oil and gas terminals, is a production base for European planemaker Airbus and hosts data storage centers for Chinese technology firms such as Tencent.

In China’s central Henan province, the city of Anyang detected two local Omicron infections traced to a student arriving from Tianjin, a local paper backed by Communist party authority in Anyang said on Monday.

It remained unclear how many other local cases in Anyang were Omicron. The city of 5.5 million residents suspended all bus services from Sunday.

Prior to the Tianjin and Anyang outbreak, China had reported a handful of Omicron cases among international travellers, and at least one locally transmitted Omicron infection.

In December, a national health official said local transmission of Omicron, caused by an Omicron infection arriving from overseas, had been found in the southern city of Guangzhou and quickly contained, without giving local case numbers.

Nationwide, mainland China reported 97 new local symptomatic cases for Sunday, up slightly from 92 a day earlier, with 60 in Henan.

The city of Xian, where local authorities are planning the gradual resumption of parcel deliveries and some businesses as a weeks-long lockdown showed signs of easing, reported 15 local symptomatic cases.

(Reporting by Roxanne Liu, Stella Qiu, Ella Cao and Tony Munroe; Editing by Kim Coghill and Michael Perry)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.



Source link

Lunar New Year, China’s biggest holiday, upended as covid surges threaten festivities worldwide


Several European cities have already canceled firework displays ringing in 2022 and some countries are reimposing restrictions, while Chinese families face the prospect of their third Lunar New Year spent apart.

The Lunar New Year — which begins on February 1, 2022 — is China’s biggest holiday, with millions of people traditionally crisscrossing the country to join loved ones for the festivities.

But those plans were upturned for many after China’s National Health Commission (NHC) on Saturday announced travel restrictions, doubling down on its “zero-Covid” strategy ahead of the Beijing Olympics happening the same month.

It urged residents in any city with confirmed Covid-19 cases against traveling during the upcoming New Year and Spring Festival holidays, amid an outbreak of infections in recent weeks.

The travel restrictions are a fresh blow for lockdown-weary Chinese families, who have endured some of the toughest — but most effective — rules in the world for more than a year.

It’s bad news too for the world’s second largest economy, still struggling with real estate woes and the fallout from sporadic lockdowns.
China’s “zero-Covid” strategy will be pushed to the limits when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics in February, as the country opens its doors to foreign athletes at the same time the Omicron variant will likely be surging in other parts of the globe.

The government in Beijing announced Friday that due to the upcoming holiday season and influx of foreign athletes, residents should avoid leaving the city during the Spring Festival, unless necessary.

Indeed the Omicron variant also comes just as many countries in the Asia-Pacific region with tough restrictions — including Australia and Japan — had tentatively started to loosen up and live with Covid-19.

Paris and Rome cancel New Year events

China isn’t the only country downscaling its festivities this year amid outbreaks.

The Netherlands is imposing a strict new lockdown, starting Sunday at 5 a.m., Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced in a televised press conference Saturday, according to CNN affiliate RTL News.

Indoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of two guests until January 14, except on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when that will be extended to four guests, according to RTL News.

All schools and extracurricular activities will close until at least January 9, RTL reports.

Sports competitions will be halted, and all indoor sports venues will also be closed, Rutte said, according to RTL News, though children under 17 years of age will be able to continue playing sports until 5 p.m. Sunday.

The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and the Omicron variant

France on Friday announced large outdoor events and gatherings will be banned on New Year’s Eve as the country faces its fifth wave of infections, warning that Omicron will become the dominant variant by early 2022.

Denmark has also proposed closing cinemas and theaters, and limiting the numbers of people in shops the week before Christmas, as it attempts to control a spike in cases.

And Rome is among several Italian cities that have decided to cancel New Year’s festivities over coronavirus concerns, authorities said Thursday.

The Campania region has also banned feasts and alcohol consumption in public areas from December 23 to January 1. Venice also canceled its open air concerts and New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Ireland will also introduce an 8:00 p.m. curfew for restaurants and bars from Sunday, and limit numbers for both indoor and outdoor events, amid a surge in Omicron cases, it announced Friday.

China’s ‘zero-Covid’ strategy

Under China’s newly tightened measures, people from medium or high-risk areas are strictly prohibited from travel. Those on official duties, or working in the transportation sector, should obtain special permission and a negative Covid-19 test within 48 hours, the NHC added.

The rules are slightly eased for residents in “low risk” districts. They are only advised not to travel during the holiday season, and are required to have a negative Covid-19 test within 48 hours to leave the city.

As part of the designation, “medium risk” areas are those with less than 10 reported cases in the last two weeks. And “high risk” areas have more than 10 reported cases.

China currently has 12 “high risk” areas and 57 “medium risk” areas, NHC statistics showed Saturday.

China has fully vaccinated 1.186 billion people, accounting for 84% of its the population, NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said.



Source link

Lufthansa CEO Concerned About China’s COVID Travel Restrictions | World News


BOSTON (Reuters) – Lufthansa is very concerned about coronavirus travel and border restrictions in China hurting the German air carrier’s recovery, its Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said on Sunday.

China sharply reduced transport links with other countries as the coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, spread around the world.

Visitors to mainland China, regardless of nationality, face tough requirements prior to travel including multiple medical tests and stringent quarantine rules upon entry.

Airlines, both Chinese and non-Chinese, also face the risk of their flight routes being suspended temporarily if a certain number of infected passengers are detected on arrival in China.

“We are not only slowing down our recovery at Lufthansa, which is also my concern, we are slowing down the recovery of the economic relations between China and Germany,” Spohr told reporters on the sidelines of a conference of airlines group IATA in Boston.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



Source link

China’s Golden Week Travel Not Expected to Return to Pre-COVID Levels This Year | World News


By Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Golden Week holiday this year is unlikely to see domestic travel rebound to pre-COVID levels, industry estimates show, hurt by uncertainty over pandemic curbs and consumer fears about the health of the economy.

The seven-day holiday from Oct. 1 to mark the founding of modern China is traditionally one of its busiest times for travel and is closely watched as a barometer of consumer demand in the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese travel booking site LY.com said it is expecting some 650 million trips, about 80% of the number made for the same period in 2019 and the lowest level since 2017. That is only a tad higher than the 637 million trips made last year when the holiday was eight days long.

“The impact of COVID-19 is big and is long,” said Zhang Qidi, visiting researcher at the Center of International Finance Studies at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing.

Political Cartoons on World Leaders

“Citizens are heavily indebted because of their home and car loans and that has resulted in a decline in disposable income.”

While China’s economy has rebounded from last year’s coronavirus-led slump, momentum in that recovery has slowed over the past few months – in part due to COVID-19 curbs imposed in several provinces and more recently due to power shortages.

For those who are travelling, cheaper shorter trips are in vogue.

Online searches for “niche travel destination” have surged in the run-up to the holiday, according to Chinese lifestyle site Little Red Book, and domestic online travel company Trip.com Group said last week that more than half of the tourists using its platform were preferring to take shorter distance trips.

“Going to fifth-tier cities is the new choice for the long holiday,” Trip.com said in a report, referring to some of the country’s least-developed and rural areas.

China’s commerce ministry said this month it would strengthen efforts to boost consumer spending. At least 20 local governments have handed out coupons that can used at shopping malls, convenience stores and restaurants to encourage spending from late September’s Mid-Autumn Festival through to Golden Week, state media has said.

(Reporting by Sophie Yu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



Source link