By Liu Zhiqiang, Qiu Chaoyi, People’s Daily
A rebound in travel and consumption during the 2023 Spring Festival illustrates the resilience of the Chinese economy.
The 2023 Spring Festival was the first public holiday held since China downgraded its management of COVID-19 from Class A to Class B on Jan 8.
Spring Festival couplets, temple fairs and Chinese New Year decorations were seen everywhere, bringing back the Spring Festival vibes that people missed in the past a few years.
The increasing numbers of orders received by enterprises, expanded production capacity, rebound of the catering industry and recovery of the tourism sector all indicated accelerated resumption of work and life.
People were seen returning home by high-speed rail, by plane and by bus to reunite with their families and friends. The Spring Festival travel rush, also known as “the largest annual human migration on earth”, was in place again.
During the 2023 Spring Festival, the Beijing Daxing International Airport opened all of its nearly 200 gate positions, and over 40 flights landed on and took off from the airport every hour. Besides, the airport was seeing over 110,000 passengers per day on average during the festival.
At the Zhengzhou East Railway Station, a big hub of China’s high-speed rail in Henan province, 120,000 passengers were seen taking trains each day during the Spring Festival holiday.
During the week-long holiday which started on Jan. 21 and ended on Jan. 27, about 226 million railway, road, waterway and air passenger trips were made in China, obviously higher from a year ago.
The Chinese movie box office made a strong comeback.
At 10:00 am on Jan. 22, the first day of the Chinese New Year, the tickets of many showings at a cinema in Huaxian county, Henan province, were already sold out.
“Fortunately I booked my tickets yesterday,” said citizen Xu Yan who went to the cinema to watch movies, adding that a number of blockbusters were hitting the theaters during the Spring Festival holiday.
According to statistics released by China Film Administration on Jan. 28, China’s movie box office revenue reached nearly 6.76 billion yuan (about $998.5 million) during the Spring Festival holiday this year, making for the second-highest gross figures for this holiday to date.
The Chinese consumer market was booming.
In Yujiang district, Yingtan, east China’s Jiangxi province, a home appliance store launched a grand promotional event and attracted large numbers of consumers. “Consumers can get a 300-yuan voucher for every payment of 3,000 yuan,” said Chen Zhihua, who shopped at the store, adding that the promotion saved him 600 yuan.
During the Chinese New Year holiday, the 480 stores of Wanda Plaza, a Chinese commercial building chain, saw a total of 160 million visits and reported revenue of 12.68 billion yuan. Both figures hit a record high in history.
Tourist attractions across China were crowded.
“I finally made the trip that I have dreamed about so long,” said tourist Zhang Yile in the Harbin Ice-Snow World in northeast Heilongjiang province, where splendid ice sculptures were on display.
During the holiday, beaches in Sanya, south China’s Hainan province were packed, and the Grand Tang Dynasty Ever Bright City, a commercial pedestrian street in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, had to set restrictions on the number of visitors because of the huge influx of tourists. Besides, the outbound tourism market was also on a fast recovery.
Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region received over 4.78 million visits during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, up 32.79 percent year on year, according to the regional culture and tourism department.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism estimated that 308 million domestic trips were made in China during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, up 23.1 percent year on year, recovering to 88.6 percent of the 2019 level.
“The demand for catering, accommodation, traveling, tourism and entertainment released fast during the Spring Festival holiday, which led to obvious recovery of the offline retailing, catering and hospitality, and culture and tourism industries. It demonstrated the strong resilience and huge opportunities of the Chinese market,” said Yang Guangpu, associate researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
The country will take recovering and expanding consumption as a priority in the new year, to constantly release the potential of its domestic demand and inject strong impetus into economic development, Yang added