China promotes ‘revenge travel’ to boost economy after Covid lockdowns | China
Millions of Chinese people are travelling across the country in a bout of “revenge tourism” after almost a year of quarantines, lockdowns and restrictions on their movement.
China’s ministry of culture and tourism expects around 550 million people will make trips within the country during an eight-day public holiday marking the mid-autumn festival and China’s national day.
Photos posted on social media on Tuesday, the first day of the national holiday, showed tourist spots crowded with visitors, and train stations busy with harried passengers.
People complained on online forums that hotels and tickets for tourist sites were sold out or that traffic had made it impossible to move. “Congestion is unavoidable,” one commentator said on Weibo. “It’s best to stay home.”
The travel booking site Qunar said hotel bookings had doubled for popular destinations such as Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan province or Sanya in Hainan, an island in the south.
Travel sites have fought for customers with discounts, while airlines have added new routes to meet demand. More than 500 scenic locations across the country are giving free admission or discounts to visitors.
Officials are keen to encourage this pent-up demand, described by state media as “revenge tourism” or “revenge travel” during the annual public holiday known as Golden Week, traditionally a prime time for travel and spending.
Spending during the next eight days will be a key indicator of China’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state-run newspaper Economic Information Daily described this year’s holiday as a “critical battle” for the tourism industry. Commentators say it marks the beginning of “revenge spending” by Chinese consumers.
“After more than half a year of prevention work and epidemic control, the holidays will see a truly ‘national movement’,” Xu Xiaolei, the marketing manager at a travel operator called CYTS Tours, told the state-run Global Times.
Officials have pinned their hopes of economic recovery on Chinese consumers, part of the “dual circulation” policy promoted by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, as a way to insulate the country from trade disputes and other external risks.
While China has largely contained the virus, with no new locally transmitted cases in almost two months, the effects of months of paralysis still linger, with many people out of work or short on cash.
The volume of domestic tourism that officials anticipate for this year’s Golden Week falls short of last year, when almost 800 million people travelled across the country.
Some people said they would not be going anywhere. On Weibo, one user said: “I also want to revenge [travel] but I have no money.”
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