Millions Travel Across China for May Day Holiday

Passengers wearing face masks and rain coats to protect against the spread of new coronavirus walk outside of Hankou train station after of the resumption of train services in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. After 11 weeks of lockdown, the first train departed Wednesday morning …

Chinese state media on Monday was brimming with upbeat accounts of travelers crossing the country and flooding into tourist attractions to celebrate May Day, a major holiday for the Communist country.

The energetic celebrations were presented as a milestone in China’s recovery from the coronavirus epidemic.

China’s state-run Xinhua news network put the spotlight on Lieshen, a mountain village that made May Day into a big debut for its rebranding as a rural tourist attraction. 

“With the help of local authorities, villagers turn farmhouses into homestay hotels and make rural landscape [into] scenic spots [to] attract tourists,” Xinhua said, using aerial photographs to show how picturesque the town has become, and how satisfyingly full its parking lots were for the May Day holiday.

Another Xinhua article reported over a million visitors at Shanghai’s 130 major tourist attractions during the first two days of the five-day May Day holiday, signaling a “growing travel and leisure demand.”

According to the report, Shanghai tourists are “required to wear face masks, show their health QR codes, and have their body temperatures taken for their safety.” The QR codes are generated by a mandatory health tracking application Chinese citizens must install on their smartphones.

Xinhua counted 23 million domestic trips on the first day of the May Day holiday, generating about $1.38 billion in revenue. 7.37 million of those travelers were packed onto trains, which recorded their highest daily number of passengers since the Lunar New Year holiday in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

About 70 percent of China’s tourist attractions were said to be open, although they were required to operate at no more than 30 percent of their optimum capacity.

China Daily on Monday celebrated tourism in Hubei province, epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, “springing back to life.” 

Twenty-two major tourist attractions were open in Hubei on Friday, drawing over 520,000 visitors over the weekend for their “first public holiday since the regional lockdown was lifted.” This total was down about 83 percent from May Day 2019 due to the 30 percent capacity limit placed on tourist sites. In Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak, tourism was down 58 percent from last year.

China Daily reported Hubei’s government established a special fund to help tourism enterprises resume operations after the lockdown. Private and public institutions have been urged to give their employees a half-day off on Friday every week over the summer to boost tourism. Medical workers who traveled to Hubei to help with the coronavirus emergency have been offered free admission to all tourist attractions for life.

The Chinese government claims there have been zero confirmed coronavirus cases in Hubei since April 4.


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