Tens of millions of Chinese took advantage of the lifting of restrictions for the New Year holidays

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It’s the return of the Lunar New Year holiday in China. Tens of millions of passengers took the train and the plane again this Monday 30 to return to work. These are the first post-zero Covid holidays for the Chinese, after three years of health restrictions that have hampered travel. Result: the tourism authorities announced on Monday, January 30, an increase of more than 23% in domestic travel this year.

From our correspondent in Beijing,

A pre-Covid crowd on the platforms and escalators of Chaoyang station this weekend in Beijing, same at airports in the capital. The masked travelers are loaded with food brought back from their native province and visibly happy with this first long vacation since the start of the pandemic.

The 2023 Spring Festival holiday period lasts 40 days, from January 7 to February 15 for the reopening of schools. According to figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 308 million domestic trips have already been recorded, an increase of +23.1% compared to last year and +98.6% compared to 2019.

The trains were stormed. Another 11.2 million passengers on Monday, 11.66 million on Sunday, boarded the more than 10,500 TGVs and sleeper trains chartered for the occasion. Even the Ferries have not been idle.

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Strong increase in tourism revenues

A deliverance also for traders. Pedestrian streets, parks, monuments… it was sometimes difficult to get around given the crowds. Some 30% more tourism revenue has been recorded, according to official figures.

In Harbin’s “world of snow and ice” in the north of the country, a real tourist trap with entry tickets not yet cheap, visitors danced the caterpillar to German music in minus 23 degrees, trained by young women with rabbit ear caps, the emblematic animal of the Lunar New Year.

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Those who fear the cold are warmed up in the dark rooms. According to the National Film Bureau, the box office of the 2023 Spring Festival film reached 6.758 billion yuan (920 million euros) in revenue, its second-highest record in Chinese cinema history.

Finally, as regards the figures for contamination during these first “open” holidays of the Spring Festival, they would be down. Chinese state media quoted statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention last Wednesday that the number of daily Covid-19 deaths has dropped nearly 80% since the beginning of January, a sign that the latest wave of infections that has hit the country since December is beginning to subside.

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