Travel restrictions are easing in China, but many people still choose to stay close to home for the five-day holiday starting on May 1 (Photo by AFP)
The International Labor Day public holiday which lasts for five days in China this year is one of the major “Golden Week” holidays when a surge in tourism is easily predictable nationwide. But this year, due to the pandemic, the so-called “Golden Week” seems much less golden, if not grey, when the number of trips taken by Chinese tourists is expected to drop by half.
According to a leading travel agency, only 90 million trips are expected to be taken during the five-day break starting on May 1, with most people planning to stay within the country and staying at luxury hotels, compared to nearly 195 million domestic trips taken during last year’s holiday.
Trip.com, a Shanghai-based travel website, said that unlike in previous years, very few people would be traveling far this time, with tourists shifting their interest from interprovincial and overseas destinations to places closer to home. International travel has been severely disrupted by COVID-19, with outbound flights from China unavailable or priced out of reach, not to mention the various border restrictions imposed by many countries.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry is also advising the public not to go abroad and travel agencies are barred from organizing tours for holidaymakers outside their home provinces.
Concerns over quarantine measures after returning from destinations also contribute to less interest in planning a trip. “If I leave Shanghai, I will probably need to be quarantined for 14 days when I return. What’s more, my son’s primary school required us not to go out of Shanghai during this period,” said a housewife in Shanghai. She said her family would be spending the Labor Day holiday in the city, with plans to visit a relative, have a barbecue with friends in the suburbs, and spend time in the large suburban parks where they could avoid crowds.
The tourism industry in Hong Kong also suffers a lot, with zero tour groups from mainland China for this Labor Day holiday, which is the first time in 13 years. Compared to around 300 tours organized on a daily basis in the previous years, the employees in the tourism industry are almost out of work and have to take other sidelines for a living.