China has begun its one-week-long holiday at a time when most people are discouraged from going out but stay home.
For years, China National day, also known as the Golden Week, has been considered an excellent chance to boost the economy through tourism activities. The holiday was once one of the busiest seasons for business activities of the year for shops, hotels, travel agencies, and public transport providers.
But this year, things are different. As Covid lockdown and many negative signs of the economy, those days are history.
Covid-controlled measures are tightened before the holiday. The South China Morning Post reported that train trips during the holidays are expected to be the lowest numbers since the pandemic, with 68.5 million from September 28 to October 8.
Authorities have also strengthened security measures for the 20th CCP’s national congress, such as a ban on transporting dangerous chemicals in Beijing or suspending airport terminals nearby.
According to Bloomberg, local health officials across the country have urged their residents to minimize travel to other cities and avoid unnecessary gatherings.
Many universities asked students to stay on campus during this time. Peking University and Tsinghua University in Beijing discourage students from long-distance travel by cutting the seven-day holiday to just three days. Parents of primary and high middle school students have been asked to avoid “non-essential” travel.
Inter-province travel is complicated as public transportation providers require passengers for negative PCR test results within 48 hours. China’s National Health Commission has also recommended people for cross-province travel “voluntarily” take PCR tests on arrival.
As a result of travel restrictions, many services sectors take a hit. Bloomberg cited China’s Ministry of Transport, estimating that daily highway traffic might decline by as much as 24% during the holiday. Passenger trips by road are expected to drop by about 30% from a year ago. And Cinema box office takings may face over a 20% drop.
Ren Wanle, an analyst from a tourism company, told the South China Morning Post that the holiday was no longer “golden” because people were urged not to travel.
Wanle posted an article on the social media platform WeChat, “The restrictions are like a curse,” and added, “They’re torture for the tourism sector, make travelers panic and they have a huge impact on the economy.”