Unprecedented traffic flow
The May Day holidays this year have been marked by unprecedented crowds and frenzy shopping spree, with multiple tourist venues reporting tickets selling out.
Quiet a many hotspot tourist sites have been operating at maximum capacity, such as the Great Wall in Beijing, the Xi'an City Wall in Xi'an of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, and the West Lake in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province, according to travel platform data.
Accommodation bookings in popular tourist cities surpassed the pre-virus level by 1.9 times, Qunar data showed. Even previously less popular tourist cities, such as Dehong in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, Gannan in Gansu, and Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, witnessed big spikes in traffic flow, driving up an over tenfold surge in local hotel bookings from 2019.
Zibo, one of the hottest travel destinations that gained prominence on China's social media platforms for its affordable barbecue food, saw hotel reservations jump by 20 times from 2019, according to data from Qunar. The sudden influx of visitors, which exceeded the city's capacity, prompted local authorities to advise people to avoid traveling to the city at peak time.
"Although not yet dinner time, barbecue stalls in Zibo are full. A shopkeeper told me that the store prepares more than 20,000 skewers of meat every day to meet huge demand," a white-collar worker surnamed Zhang told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In addition to delicious food and good services provided by the local government, Zhang attributed the major reason behind the popularity to an explosion in consumer demand, which has been suppressed in the past three years.
Throughout the May Day holidays, Chinese social media sites were abuzz with pictures and posts featuring Chinese tourist attractionsoverwhelmed with swarms of people, which drew a host of humorous online discussions by netizens.
For example, memes of a "camel-riding traffic jam" at Yueyaquan scenic area, an ancient "Silk Road" in Dunhuang, went viral. According to a report by Beijing Youth Daily, the congestion was due to the drastic uptick in tourists, which reached around 20,000 to 30,000 every day during the holidays whereas there are only 2,400 camels in service. The site operators, as a result, reportedly erected traffic lights to guide the camel riding activities.
Crowds are also palpable on the waterways. A raft congestion in Wuzhishan, South China's Hainan Province, was in the limelight during the holidays. Some netizens made a humorous comparison that the hundreds of floating rubber boats stuck at the site were like "dumplings cooking in boiling water."
Despite travel jams, Chinese tourists said the roaring back of the tourism sector has brought them long-awaited excitement and joy.
"I can obviously feel the enthusiasm of people traveling after the optimization of the COVID-19 response, as I've seen large crowds in popular spots in Chongqing, such as Hongyadong, where people enjoy the wonderful night view and river view," a Beijing-based white-collar worker surnamed Xiong told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"Most tourists aren't wearing masks, which shows that the impact of the epidemic has almost dissipated," she noted.
The May Day holidays are the first long holidays after China resumed outbound group tours in February.
Data from Chinese travel agency Trip.com shows that during the long break, the number of outbound travel bookings placed by Chinese mainland tourists grew roughly 700 percent compared with last year's.