China Labour Day travel rush gives glimpse of life after COVID-19

01 May, 2021
China Labour Day travel rush gives glimpse of life after COVID-19
Millions of travellers criss-crossed China as the Labour Day holiday got underway on Saturday (May 1), packing out tourist sites, thronging restaurants and visiting family as the vast country edges towards life after COVID-19.

The world's second major economy is expecting about 265 million journeys by road, train or boat through the five-day holiday, a transport ministry official said this week - numbers last observed in 2019 prior to the coronavirus struck.

Hundreds of day trippers packed out the walkway along the very best of the Great Wall at Badaling, about 60km from downtown Beijing, with many not wearing masks.

Prior to the holiday on Friday, passengers thronged train stations across the country, with queues stretching across crowded departure halls.

A large crowd of men and women wearing face masks visit the promenade on the Bund along the Huangpu River during a holiday on May Day, or International Workers' Day, in Shanghai on May 1, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Hector Retamal)

Although China's economy has bounced back from the coronavirus-induced slowdown of last year, consumer activity has lagged behind the stronger rebound seen in the industrial production.

But retail sales have since picked up, surging 34.2 % on-year in March and painting a far more optimistic picture of consumption demand.

Key cities such as for example capital city Beijing, along with Shanghai and Guangzhou, are anticipated to see greater demand this Labour Day holiday, said the transport official Li Huaqiang.

"The number of individuals could have basically returned to levels observed in the same period in 2019," he added.

But Chinese authorities sounded a cautious note ahead of the break, warning that places of interest should impose restrictions on visitor numbers and have ticketing systems to regulate the flow of individuals.

Travellers will also have to register at attractions and show their "health codes" - an electric certificate on the phones to prove they aren't at risk of infecting others.

As the coronavirus outbreak has been largely brought in order in China, fresh outbreaks in the beginning of the year prompted authorities to urge migrant staff to remain home over the Chinese New Year.