National Day holiday litmus test for recovery of services

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Source: Global Times

Photo: Xinhua

The upcoming National Day holiday may be one of the most eagerly anticipated ones in China. Whether China’s tourism industry that was hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak could see a strong rebound and release the pent-up domestic consumption will be revealed after the 8-day-long holiday.

Judging from the forecasts released by major online travel platforms, the answer is certainly yes.

According to the booking report for the National Day holiday in 2020 by travel platform Qunar.com, as of mid-September, air ticket bookings through the platform for the National Day holiday had exceeded the same level of last year.

Observers generally believe that domestic travel over the upcoming holiday will experience a remarkable boost. This may be because China has lifted most restrictions on domestic travel after bringing the COVID-19 under firm control, while the severe international pandemic situation and various quarantine requirements have made it virtually impractical for people to travel abroad.

Of course, even a robust rebound in domestic travel doesn’t mean that China’s economic activities have been fully restored to the time before the outbreak. With coronavirus cautions remaining, in major Chinese cities like Shanghai, schools have asked parents and students to stay in their home cities, while some hotels there ask their guests to get coronavirus tests before arriving.

But this will not change the general picture of China’s tourism recovery, which to some extent is also a representative of the Chinese economy returning to normalcy amid the normalization of epidemic control and prevention measures.

If anything, a resurgence of tourism in China may give some hope and confidence to the rest of the world.

At present, tourism in other parts of the world is still plagued by the pandemic. Some countries are still far from flattening the curve due to their lack of attention paid to the control and prevention of the virus, while others have faced second waves of coronavirus infections.

In the UK, with daily number of new COVID-19 cases hovering at high levels, the country may face a possible second lockdown, according to local media reports. Given the devastating impact of social restrictions on the economy, those which haven’t recovered from the previous blow may become even more pessimistic about their financial conditions and the country’s economic outlook.

However, it is worth noting that China also experienced severe economic losses and paid a heavy price in the first quarter of the year before putting the outbreak under control in the second quarter, thanks to the government’s all-out strict quarantine measures.

The upcoming eight-day holiday will be a litmus test as to what degree the Chinese economy has recovered, which will also serve as a revelation for policymakers around the world: Since COVID-19 is likely to stay for some time in the near future, countries need to try out their own solutions to balance the need for epidemic prevention and the need for economic growth.

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