Relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions has industry primed for first boom of year
Domestic tourism is projected to shoot up during the five-day May Day holiday as pent-up demand for travel is unleashed following its official discouragement during last month's Spring Festival holiday to contain COVID-19 transmission risks.
The relaxation of epidemic-control measures and lifting of travel restrictions look set to make the May Day holiday - from May 1 to 5 - the first travel boom of the year, according to industry insiders.
Beijing announced on March 12 that, as of Tuesday, travelers from areas with low risks of infection no longer need to provide negative nucleic acid test results when arriving in the capital.
Reservations for tickets for flights and trains to or from the city doubled in the hour after the announcement, according to Qunar, an online travel agency.
Bookings for trips during the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday - April 3 to 5 - and the May Day break also rose.
Figures from Qunar show that on March 12 there were three times as many searches on its platform for Tomb Sweeping Day holiday tour packages than on March 11. Meanwhile, reservations for flight tickets for the May Day holiday have exceeded those during the same period in 2019.
"Beijing's decision to cancel nucleic acid test requirements for people traveling to the city has greatly spurred people's desire to travel," said Lan Xiang, president of Qunar's data research center.
He said that after being asked to stay put during the Spring Festival break, "travelers will use the holidays to visit their parents or take a leisure trip."
Trip.com, another travel agency, has also seen searches for flight tickets for the May Day holiday increase this month, along with hotel reservations for dates between April 30 and May 5.
Zhang Di, a 29-year-old from Beijing, said she plans to travel back to her hometown in Zhejiang province over the May Day holiday with her boyfriend, and wants to take her parents to Huzhou, a city in the province known for its many well-decorated homestays.
"My boyfriend and I spent our Spring Festival holiday in Beijing, responding to the government's call. But my parents missed me and keep asking when will we get back home," Zhang said.
"So we made a plan that will not only allow us to visit my parents, but will also fulfill our desire to travel."
However, experts said self-protection remains important for those going on holiday trips because there is still a risk from imported cases of COVID-19.
Feng Zijian, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an online interview with China Central Television on Wednesday that travelers are encouraged to wear masks on their trips.
"If you have symptoms of fever or diarrhea, please think twice about the trip, especially those to mass gatherings, and go to hospital as soon as possible," he said.