Chinese tourists cancel travel plans over COVID-19 fears

 Wednesday, December 30, 2020 


Millions of Chinese tourists have shunned overseas travel this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These tourists are further narrowing the scope of their journeys, visiting nearby cities and avoiding trips out of their provinces as the recent cases of the novel coronavirus in Beijing and northern China have rekindled public concern.

The latest COVID cases arrive at a time when people were already affected by calls to avoid non-essential travel during the festive season between January 1 and the start of Lunar New Year in mid-February. In a usual year, millions of domestic tourists travel in the week before and after January 1.

Although hotel bookings for the upcoming three-day New Year weekend had reached 1.8 times of bookings a year earlier as of December 24, plane tickets were nearly 20% cheaper on average, with many people not travelling far, according to Beijing-based online travel platform Qunar. The company mentioned that the latest trend is taking a train to visit cities within the reach of one hour.

According to reports, the most popular train tickets are for trips between Chengdu and Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and Shanghai and Hangzhou. The Chinese capital has already cancelled large-scale events, including the 2021 Beijing Book Fair, and ordered travel agencies not to sell packages for the city during the New Year and Lunar New Year holidays.

Similarly, many other cities have followed suit. Shenzhen and Dalian have told already residents not to leave unless absolutely necessary, while businesses have been ordered not to organise gatherings. In central Hubei province, the birthplace of the pandemic, locals were told to stay indoors and cap family gatherings at 10 people.

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