China Labour Day travel rush gives glimpse of life after Covid

Beijing, China: As the Labour Day holiday began on Saturday, millions of tourists crisscrossed China, filling tourist attractions, thronging restaurants, and visiting family as the vast country prepares for life after Covid.

According to a transport ministry official, the world's second-largest economy expects 265 million roads, rail, and boat trips over the five-day holiday, up from the previous year's figures before the coronavirus hit.

Hundreds of day-trippers crammed the Great Wall's top walkway at Badaling, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Beijing, many of whom were not wearing masks.

Passengers thronged train stations around the country ahead of the holiday on Friday, with lines extending around packed departure halls.

While China's economy has recovered from the coronavirus-induced slowdown of last year, consumer spending has lagged behind industrial production's stronger recovery.

However, retail sales have picked up in recent months, rising 34.2 percent year over year in March and painting a more positive image of consumer demand.

This Labor Day holiday, key cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are expected to see increased demand, according to transport official Li Huaqiang.

"The number of people would have basically returned to levels seen in the same period in 2019," he added.

However, Chinese authorities warned that tourist attractions should enforce visitor number restrictions and use ticketing systems to monitor the flow of people ahead of the break.

Travelers may also be required to register at attractions and display their "health codes," which are electronic certificates that indicate they are not at risk of infecting anyone, on their phones.

Although the coronavirus outbreak in China has been largely contained, new outbreaks at the start of the year prompted authorities to advise migrant workers to stay at home during the Lunar New Year.

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