Ministry urges tourists to exercise restraint during holiday season

By CHENG SI | China Daily| Updated:  December 31, 2021 L M S

While China's southern sunny beaches and northern snowy scenery seek to lure visitors over the approaching New Year's Day holiday, officials said sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19 mean that travelers need to maintain a cool head when choosing their destination.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing outbreak in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism released a notice on Wednesday warning travelers not to visit areas with a medium or high risk of infection during the holiday.

Travelers are advised to plan their trips reasonably and in advance, and they must be aware of official policies on virus control before their departure. Also, travelers are not encouraged to visit popular scenic spots, and are required to pay attention to their health condition while making trips.

Due to these safety concerns, most travelers are opting for trips to nearby destinations or self-driving tours during the upcoming holiday period.

Online travel portal Fliggy said in a report that nearly 70 percent of its customers are choosing to spend the three-day break at destinations in or neighboring their provincial-level region.

Also, renting a car for self-driving tours is preferred by travelers in order to reduce any unnecessary contact with others and keep themselves safe from the virus. Fliggy said that in the past week, orders for car rental on its platform increased by 168 percent compared with the previous week.

Travel agencies said that women are more enthusiastic about traveling than men over the three-day break. According to online travel platform Tuniu, orders made by female customers account for 61 percent of those placed for the upcoming holiday.

And among that female majority, younger women are predominant, with about half coming from the 26 to 35-year-old age group, which is noted for its pursuit of a better quality of life and greater financial independence.

Wu Ruoshan, a visiting researcher at the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that in addition to short-distance tours, ski resorts will also prove popular over the three-day break.

He said that some indoor ski areas in southern provinces with a mild winter climate will meet customers' demand. In addition, high-end hotels with their own ski resorts or springs are set to be a popular option over the holiday for families with younger children.

The travel portal Fliggy said that in the past week, reservations for winter tour packages rose by 188 percent compared with the previous week. The ski resorts of Songhuahu and Beidahu in Jilin province are among the popular choices for travelers.

Health experts suggested that people should not travel as much and ought to stagger their planned trips in order to reduce the chances of getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference on Dec 21 that the elderly, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women are not encouraged to travel. In addition, it's necessary to wear a mask and reduce the number of times food is eaten at public venues during trips.

At a recent teleconference, Minister of Culture and Tourism Hu Heping stressed the importance of epidemic control and prevention work over the holiday in order to secure travelers' health.

He said that the upcoming holidays will see a peak season for traveling, which is also a key period for epidemic prevention.

He said that it's necessary for travel agencies, A-rated attractions and indoor entertainment venues to monitor their employees' health. He also emphasized that local culture and tourism bureaus should offer high-quality tour services.

In late November, the ministry released a notice to set up a warning mechanism at popular tourist attractions to strengthen preparation against the possible risk of infection.