China is experiencing a return to normal as travelers head to tourist locations after the country reopened following the global coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by the Financial Times (FT).
In excess of 50 million tourism trips took place in China over the May Day holiday on Friday (May 1) and Saturday (May 2), state media indicated, as reported by FT Sunday (May 3). This is more than the number of trips taken across the Qing Ming festival, April 4-6.
The increase is an indication that China’s economy is rebounding following the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s economy shrank for the first time year-on-year in over 40 years due to the global crisis that swept the world. As new cases continue to plummet, China is now showing signs of recovery.
May Day numbers are still anticipated to be below the totals for the same period in 2019; people made almost 200 million trips last year.
“On a year-on-year basis, if we look at it from a retail sales perspective, or consumption, or services, it’s still a contraction,” said Iris Pang, greater China economist at ING.
The holiday could, however, push reluctant people to “restart their normal lives.” On Friday, China Railway moved its highest number of passengers — 7.4 million — the most since the Lunar New Year in February.
Beijing’s Forbidden City opened in part for the first time since Jan. 25, with a mandate of social distancing. Further, the capital city said that new arrivals from any part of the world would no longer have to self-quarantine for two weeks. Cinemas and theaters would still be restricted, state media said, according to FT.
Although more people are heading out of their homes, consumer spending in China is still down.
“For a generation of young Chinese people known for their American-style shopping sprees,” noted the Times, “saving and thrift hold a sudden new appeal,” The New York Times recently reported.