Lunar New Year sees mass travel return

TRAVELERS: Beijing Capital International Airport is crowded with travelers waiting for flights on Saturday. Japan News-Yomiuri

BEIJING - With the Lunar New Year period having started Saturday, a total of about 2.1 billion trips are expected to be made within and out of China.

This year's holiday period, which continues through Friday, is the first since China abandoned its "zero-COVID" policy to stem coronavirus infections through lockdowns.

Many people will be returning to their hometowns for the first time in years. And as some overseas travel has resumed, expectations for economic recovery are rising in destinations popular with Chinese travelers.

On Saturday morning, the international departure lobby of Beijing Capital International Airport was bustling with passengers - including families.

The Chinese government has eliminated mandatory quarantine upon entry to the country and allowed Chinese nationals to resume overseas travel since Jan. 8.

According to a travel bookings website, Asian countries account for more than half of Chinese travelers' trips, with Hong Kong, Macao and Thailand the most popular destinations.

The Chinese government has repeatedly urged local governments to thoroughly monitor the health of pregnant women and elderly people who have underlying medical conditions and are living in rural areas so as to prevent serious illnesses in those who are infected.

The Chinese government announced Friday that it will partially lift a ban on group travel by visitors from overseas on Feb. 6.

Group tours, which have been suspended for almost three years, will be available for travelers from about 20 countries, including Thailand and Russia. But Japan and South Korea, where China has suspended visa issuing operations, are excluded.


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