China’s Mid-Autumn Festival tourism hit by COVID curbs

People walk in a garden with decorated lanterns and light before Mid-Autumn festival at Wong Tai Sin temple in Hong Kong, China September 8, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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BEIJING, Sept 13 (Reuters) – The number of trips taken over China’s three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday shrank, with tourism revenue also falling, official data showed, as strict COVID-19 rules discouraged people from travelling.

The number of trips made by tourists fell 16.7% from a year earlier to 73.4 million trips during the holiday, which ended on Monday, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Tourism earnings slumped 22.8% to 28.68 billion yuan ($4.14 billion), the data showed.

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China has been battling to contain the highly transmissible Omicron variant, imposing lockdowns of various degrees to stop its spread this year and stepping up curbs and restrictions when necessary.

In the Chinese capital Beijing, people returning to work on Tuesday needed to show negative results from tests taken within 48 hours, compared with 72 hours previously.

Authorities in general have also urged people to refrain from non-essential trips in the run-up to a week-long National Day holiday next month and a Communist Party Congress in mid-October.

“We believe travel for family gatherings, tourism and retail sales will be severely hit in coming months including the National Day Golden Week holiday from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7,” said Japanese brokerage and investment bank Nomura.

“The worsening tourism data may prompt more cuts of GDP growth forecasts on the Street,” Nomura wrote in a note on Tuesday.

During the busy Mid-Autumn Festival, a holiday that typically involves family reunions, trips by road were down 37% at 48.18 million and those by boat fell 15% to 1.54 million, state television reported on Monday.

People took 1.28 million trips within China by air, according to the CCTV report, a level nearly 60% lower than the corresponding holiday last year.

($1 = 6.9229 Chinese yuan)

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Reporting by Liangping Gao and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Aizhu Chen in Singapore; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Jacqueine Wong

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.