After beating the coronavirus outbreak in China, hundreds of millions in China hustled to enjoy their first major national holiday with massive influx of travellers across country.
The Golden Week holiday marks the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and sees an astonishing annual movement of people trying to get home or take holidays.
But this year has added significance, with the crowds filling the concourses pointing to a country rebounding from the outbreak and parading the freedom to travel as a contrast to the rolling lockdowns hitting much of the world.
State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of train stations in Guangzhou and Shanghai completely packed to the brim with people.
Based on estimates by the Chinese government, up to 108 million railway trips would be made by travellers during this festive period from September 28 to October 8, state media reported.
Domestic travel has sprung back to life and given the economy a boost after the virus shuttered businesses and scared away tourists following its emergence in Wuhan late last year.
Wuhan in central China is back in business too, with visitors thronging to the Yellow Crane Tower, a Taoist shrine, according to the country’s biggest travel agency Ctrip.
Mainland China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, all imported from overseas, down from 19 a day earlier, according to the country’s health authority.
More than 600 million trips will be taken during the holiday, down 20 percent from a year ago, Ctrip estimated, but they will still force the state railway to lay on 1,000 extra trains a day.
Around 108 million passengers will take trains during the eight-day holidays, around 13.5 million a day.
They are likely to bring much-needed spending to far-flung parts of China, last year, travellers spent $9.5 billion during the Golden Week.
At Beijing’s Capital Airport — whose check-in rows and aisles were empty in February, thousands of passengers queued up with their luggage and children in tow.
Life in the Chinese capital has gradually returned to normal after ghostly scenes of empty roads in January and February, and a second virus outbreak in June.
The once eerily empty streets in the city’s financial district are packed, previously deserted malls are full of shoppers and ice rinks have filled with children learning to skate again.
Chinese retail sales edged back to growth in August for the first time since the pandemic struck, signalling a rebound for the world’s second-largest economy.