China’s state-run Global Times on Tuesday proclaimed tourism to Wuhan, ground zero for the global coronavirus pandemic, has “rebounded” in the year since heavy lockdown orders were lifted and the city is now witnessing a “travel blowout.”
“The just-passed three-day Qingming Festival holiday saw the city rank among the top 10 domestic tourist destinations, a scene few would have imagined a year ago,” the Global Times reported, rhapsodizing about the cherry blossoms, lake views, architectural landmarks, and local cuisine. Wuhan’s food became famous around the world last year for very different reasons.
According to the report, tourism in Wuhan and its surrounding Hubei province reached about 60 percent of its 2019 peak. Tourism and travel workers said their income from the Qingming holiday was nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. The once-desolate city of Wuhan teemed with hundreds of thousands of visitors — crowds so huge and tightly packed that “people could hardly move,” according to a traffic officer.
The Qingming Festival is, perhaps appropriately, China’s annual holiday to honor the dead. It is also known as the Tomb-Sweeping Festival. The ancient legend behind the festival includes a dash of cannibalism.
Another Global Times report Tuesday said domestic travel across all of China would “likely surpass the level of 2019” during the May Day season, marking a “full-fledged recovery” for the tourism industry. However, tourism income was expected to take a 30- to 40-percent hit because “consumer spending remains relatively sluggish” and inflation is running high.
Industry analysts estimated tourism rebounded to 94.5 percent of 2019 levels across China during the Qingming Festival, which ran from Saturday to Monday. Tourism income, as projected, did not recover as much. Total revenues were estimated at $4.15 billion, which is roughly 57 percent of 2019’s take. One expert suggested China’s ongoing restrictions on international travel pumped up domestic tourism, as vacationers had no choice but to visit domestic attractions.
“The figures shed light on the rapid recovery of the tourism market in the post-epidemic era and showed that in terms of trip numbers, the domestic travel market has almost entirely returned to normalcy, another milestone in China’s world-leading recovery from the pandemic,” the Global Times wrote.