Domestic tourism in China returned to pre-pandemic levels over the five-day May Day holiday break, according to China’s Ministry of Cultural and Tourism, one of the first major holidays since China rolled back most of its covid-19 restrictions.
Tourists made 274 million trips throughout mainland China the ministry says, a 19% increase over the same period in 2019. Tourism revenue also surged 129% from 2022, totaling ¥148.06 billion ($21.4 billion).
The holiday weekend, celebrating International Worker’s Day, is a major celebration in China. And for many, with the recent easing of Covid restrictions, this was the first opportunity for travel since 2019.
On the first day of the holiday weekend, China’s railway system—the main form of long-distance travel in the country—saw a record 19.66 million trips.
The China Tourism Academy expects domestic tourist trips to reach 4.55 billion this year, a 73% increase over last year.
“The strong holiday tourism data, together with the still-solid April services PMI, bode well for consumption and services recovery in coming months, despite the softening in manufacturing growth momentum,”
— Goldman Sachs economic forecast, according to a Reuters report.
Recent easing of Chinese covid restrictions: a timeline
December 7, 2022: China’s National Health Commission announces a nationwide rollback of the Zero Covid policy, reducing mandatory PCR testing and stringent lockdowns. The act also means the health pass application is no longer required for entry to most public spaces and patients are allowed to quarantine at home instead of a state facility.
January 8, 2023: China removes some immigration restrictions, paving the way for limited international travel in and out of the country. Hong Kong allows quarantine-free travel to and from mainland China.
January 27, 2023: China saw more than 225 million domestic trips in the first week of Lunar New Year celebrations, in the first major holiday without stringent covid-restrictions, a 74% increase over travel during the holiday in 2022.
March 15, 2023: China officially opens its borders to tourists from overseas for the first time in over three years.
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