A Golden Week

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Last week’s National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday (“Golden Week”) in China has been declared a major success with 637 million domestic tourists spending an estimated 466.56 billion yuan (US$68.6 billion) over the 8 day holiday period, which was only a 20% fall on the numbers reported this time last year.

Bearing in mind that it’s only 6 months since the city of Wuhan was in total lockdown (which was officially lifted on 8th April), it’s amazing that China’s tourism sector has bounced back so rapidly. According to CNBC, “China claims to have 205 active Covid-19 cases among its population of 1.4 billion people”.

But the most striking aspect of this year’s Golden Week are the photos of the crowds (not always with masks on, and with no sign of social distancing) at railway stations and popular tourist sites which, as mentioned by CNBC, “stand in stark contrast to scenes elsewhere in the world, where countries continue to struggle with rising coronavirus infection rates and muted economic activity”.

These images will be met with mixed feelings around the world but, whatever you think about it, if China remains “Covid free”, it’s a remarkable turnaround, by any measure. However, as we all now realise, it will take a few days before we’ll know for sure whether these activities and crowds will lead to further outbreaks, second waves or even lockdowns. According to the New York Times “a dozen people in Qingdao, a seaside city in Shandong Province, had tested positive for the virus as of Sunday” resulting in the routine testing of 9.5 million residents. These are the first locally transmitted cases in China since mid August and a further reminder of the challenges ahead.

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