Chinese language vacationers, gripped by COVID-19 fears, cut back home journey plans
BEIJING: Chinese tourists, millions of whom have avoided overseas travel this year due to the global pandemic, continue to restrict the scope of their trips, visiting nearby cities and avoiding trips from their provinces.
The recent cases of the novel coronavirus in Beijing and northern China have resurrected public concerns already shaken by calls to avoid non-essential travel during the Christmas season between January 1 and the start of the lunar new year in mid-February.
Millions of local tourists travel the week before and after January 1 in a typical year.
Although hotel bookings for the upcoming three-day New Year’s weekend on December 24 were 1.8 times higher than last year, airline tickets were on average almost 20 percent cheaper as many people didn’t travel far, according to the Beijing-based online travel platform Qunar.com said.
“The trend is to visit cities within an hour by train,” the company said.
The hottest train tickets are valid for trips between Chengdu and Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and Shanghai and Hangzhou, according to Qunar.com.
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Huang Li said she decided not to go to Sanya on southern Hainan Island after the government told people to avoid unnecessary travel.
“I’m not sure if my son will be allowed to attend classes in his kindergarten when we leave Beijing,” said Huang, 40. “Too much uncertainty. We might be asked to do nucleic acid tests.”
The Chinese capital has canceled major events such as the Beijing Book Fair in 2021 and instructed travel agents not to sell packages for the city during the New Year and New Year holidays.
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People walk in the tourist area around Houhai Lake during the Chinese National Day holidays in Beijing, China, October 2, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS / Thomas Peter / Files)
Many other cities have followed suit.
Shenzhen and Dalian have told residents not to go “unless necessary” while companies have been ordered not to hold any gatherings.
In central Hubei Province, where the pandemic began, locals were told to stay indoors and limit family gatherings to 10 people.
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Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager at Spring Tour, the travel arm of Shanghai-based Spring Group, said her agency had launched new offerings for local tourism.
“There are a lot of great things people can do in the Shanghai area, and there are great hotels and hot springs,” Zhou said.
Not all travelers are about to cancel trips to distant destinations.
Beijing-based Cai Dong, 34, and his wife are flying to Sanya this week.
“It’s not worth ruining my planned vacation just because of a handful of cases,” said Cai.
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