BEIJING - The May Day travel rush in China signals the nation's stepped-up recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with people thronging at railway stations, airports and tourist sites, criss-crossing provinces.
Passenger trips on Chinese railways hit a new single-day high on Saturday, with nearly 18.83 million trips recorded, according to data released by the China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. The figure marks a 9.2-percent increase from the 2019 level, the first day of the International Workers' Day holiday, which runs through Wednesday.
The news media have linked the travel boom to China's success in containing the spread of COVID-19 and its ongoing mass vaccination campaign.
In mid-April, Chinese travel services provider Trip.com published forecast data for the May Day holiday, showing that bookings through the service provider have seen significant increases across many business areas compared with pre-pandemic levels.
As of April 14, holiday flight bookings had been 23 percent higher than the same period in 2019, with hotel bookings up 43 percent, attraction tickets up 114 percent, and car rentals up 126 percent, according to data from Trip.com.
"The effective control of the pandemic and authorities' supportive attitude are expected to unleash travellers' enthusiasm," the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted Trip.com research analyst Fang Zexi, as saying.
"We forecast an explosive surge in tourism demand from last year, and it could be even higher than 2019," Fang forecast prior to the holiday.
"Tickets for everything from domestic flights to theme parks are rapidly selling out in China ahead of its Labor Day holiday as the nation's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic gathers pace," the Bloomberg News observed in a report last week.
"China's early success in tackling the pandemic has helped to underpin its economic rebound," it said, adding "its ability to contain sporadic outbreaks has given millions of people the confidence to stick to their domestic travel plans."