Holiday season

China faces grim holiday season as Covid Zero disrupts travel

Chinese holidaymakers are facing another festive season marred by virus outbreaks and controls, with the government’s strict Covid Zero restrictions and infection fears set to keep many people at home during the upcoming coronavirus break. labor Day.

Travel was already down in March, when the biggest Covid-19 outbreak in two years prompted authorities to lock down major cities like Shenzhen and block or restrict road traffic to try to stop transmission of the virus. With millions of Shanghai residents still confined to their homes and tighter restrictions in several other cities, including Beijing, for many people travel is on hold for the time being.

Government officials estimate that passenger traffic over the five-day holiday which begins on Saturday will drop 62% from last year, road traffic will halve and air travel could drop 77%. Ctrip said about half of travel bookings made on its online platform were for short-haul trips in the provinces, according to a report.

The collapse of what is usually one of China’s busiest tourist seasons is another blow to service industries, which have borne the brunt of more than two years of nationwide shutdowns and travel restrictions to contain virus outbreaks. Even when the number of tourist trips returned to pre-pandemic levels last year, holidaymakers were still spending significantly less and taking shorter local trips.

An epidemic forced Guangzhou airport to cancel all flights on Friday and Saturday, according to local media Yicai. Four cases were discovered during tests at the airport on Thursday, according to an official briefing reported by local media. The airport had previously delayed some flights, a metro station had been closed there and mass Covid testing had begun in three areas of the city.

Read more: China New Year trips up but tourism down due to virus

For those not locked in, governments across China are doing everything they can to make it difficult to get around during the holidays this year. Authorities in Beijing, Guangdong, popular Hainan Beach and other areas have all warned residents not to travel outside the province.

Baidu Inc.’s mapping service said travel would drop “significantly” during the holidays and local and city tours would become increasingly popular.

Hotel prices in several cities, including Jinan and Chengdu, hit five-year lows, while prices for some luxury hotels in Beijing, Sanya and other cities are less than half what they were last year, according to data from Qunar, a leading online travel site. agency.

To travel to the central province of Henan this year, people will need to take a PCR test before arriving and then two tests within the first three days after entering the province, according to a recent report by the Global Times. Also, their Covid tracing app will turn yellow, meaning they won’t be able to enter shops, take taxis or enter many public spaces, and may have to stay home or in a hotel. for seven days, according to the report. , which cited provincial transportation authorities.

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