Sunday, March 26, 2023

Millions of Chinese hit roads to celebrate National Day holidays shedding COVID-19 fears

National Day
A family wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus walk outside the Forbidden City during holiday. (Photo| AFP)

Beijing, October 1: Millions of travel-starved Chinese hit the roads as the country on Thursday shut down for eight-day official holidays to celebrate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Mid-Autumn Festival which overlaps with the National Day holidays.
This is the first major holiday season for the Chinese after the COVID-19 hit Wuhan and rest of the country in January this year before it spread to the world, halting the Chinese New Year Celebrations with lockdowns.
The National Day Holiday is the second biggest holiday for the Chinese during which millions of people travel abroad and the country visiting their relatives and major tourist sites.
With travel restrictions removed for domestic travel after the COVID-19 was brought under control, transport services and tour operators expected a large number of Chinese to travel domestic destinations as China has not yet opened international travel.
China’s National Health Commission on Thursday said 11 imported COVID-19 cases were confirmed on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland had reached 85,414, including the 186 patients still being treated, the Commission said.
Altogether 80,594 patients have been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 died of the disease on the mainland so far, the commission said.
The National Day celebrations began with a flag-raising ceremony at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing with the presence of a large number of people.
There are likely to be about 600 million trips made across the nation during the eight-day break starting from Thursday, according to a report released by online travel service provider Trip, as people travel for leisure or to reunite with families after being largely cooped up by social distancing measures since last winter.
This year’s holiday is the longest golden week holiday as the National Day holiday overlaps with the Mid-Autumn Festival, a holiday for family reunions. Seats on high-speed trains on several routes were snapped up in a few hours on the first day of presale early this month.
The total number of domestic flights taken during the holiday period is expected to exceed 15 million, a 10 per cent increase on last year, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted as saying online travel booking website Qunar, noting that demand was boosted by many mainland travellers taking domestic trips who would otherwise have gone overseas.
China’s railway passenger trips are expected to reach 108 million during the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China also hopes that the Golden Week holiday will generate the much-needed fillip to the sagging economy hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, specially the domestic spending by Chinese to celebrate the holidays.
The Chinese government hopes for a quick recovery of the world’s second largest economy as China is the first country to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Consumer spending accounted for only 56 per cent of China’s gross domestic product last year as the country continue to depend on exports, which were hit by the pandemic.
In the first eight months of 2020, the rebound in retail sales and household consumption in China lagged behind investment, production and exports, fanning concerns that a broader economic recovery could be unsustainable if incomes and consumer spending fail to return to the pre-coronavirus levels, the Post report added. (PTI)