Holiday trips within China surge after lifting of COVID curbs
FILE PHOTO: People walk with their luggage at a railway station during the annual Spring Festival travel rush ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Shanghai, China January 16, 2023. REUTERS/Aly S
By Yew Lun Tian
BEIJING (Reuters) – The number of people making trips inside China over the week-long Lunar New Year holiday surged 74% from last year after authorities scrapped COVID-19 curbs that had stifled travel for three years, media reported on Saturday.
An estimated 226 million domestic trips were made by all means including plane during the holiday week that ended on Friday, state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing government figures.
That compares with about 130 million domestic trips during the holiday week last year, according to the transport ministry.
In the last Lunar New Year holiday before the novel coronavirus emerged in late 2019 in the central city of Wuhan, some 420 million trips were made internally.
As for trips abroad, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) said on Friday cross-border trips more than doubled in the first six days of the holiday – to a total of 2.39 million, up 123.9% – compared with the same period last year.
During the Lunar New Year holiday in 2019, a total of 12.53 million cross-border trips were made, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year in China when the huge numbers of people working in prosperous coastal cities head to their hometowns and villages for a once-a-year family reunion.
But for three years people were told not to travel during the holiday with those who insisted facing the risk of snap lockdowns, multiple COVID tests, quarantine and even admonishment by their work units.
China abandoned its strict “zero COVID” policy in early December after protests against the restrictions, allowing people to travel and the virus to spread rapidly throughout the country.