In China, the celebration of the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is facing challenges due to severe weather. The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) has warned of complex winter conditions, including snow and rain, which are expected to affect transportation significantly.
This warning comes as the Lunar New Year travel period, called chun yun, is underway, starting on Jan. 26 and ending on March 5.
Heavy Weather Disrupts Lunar New Year Travel in China
Northern regions of China, such as Jilin, Liaoning, and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous area, experienced a blizzard on Tuesday. Additionally, areas like Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces are dealing with heavy fog.
According to the South China Morning Post, the CMA predicts that the situation will worsen, with northern China facing snowstorms and the Yangtze River area expecting heavy rain. Starting Thursday, central and eastern parts of China are forecast to have freezing rain for four days, affecting places like Henan, Hebei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hunan, and Guizhou provinces. This weather is likely to disrupt transportation, telecommunications, and agriculture.
This year's weather conditions during the Lunar New Year are considered the most complex since the deadly winter storm in 2008, which resulted in significant casualties and disruptions. The government focuses on safety and stability as the Spring Festival, which falls on February 10, approaches. The winter season has already seen weather-related disasters in China, including a landslide in Yunnan province that claimed 44 lives.
Despite the weather challenges, there is an expectation of high travel volume during chun yun, with a forecast of 9 billion trips, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. Travel agencies report a surge in bookings, and flight prices are at their highest since 2019. This increase in travel is seen as a potential boost to China's economy, which is recovering from the pandemic slowdown.
China's Tourism Booming During Spring Festival
China's tourism sector is set for a busy Spring Festival holiday, with travel bookings skyrocketing compared to last year. The China Daily shared that as one of China's leading online travel agencies, there's a huge increase in people planning trips within the country, as well as to and from other nations.
This winter, a new travel trend has emerged in China. People from the southern regions are traveling to the north to enjoy the snowy landscapes, while those in the colder northern areas are heading south for warmer weather. This pattern is expected to continue during the Spring Festival. Harbin, in northeast China, has seen a 14-fold increase in visitors, mainly from the south. Conversely, Sanya in Hainan province and Kunming in Yunnan province are popular with tourists from the north.
The Spring Festival, traditionally a time for family gatherings, also encourages family travel. Nearly half of all travelers on Ctrip choose to go with family members or opt for car rentals, custom trips, or bus tours with guides.
There's also a surge in overseas trips, with short to medium tours to Southeast and East Asia being particularly popular. Cruise vacations are unexpectedly in demand. Inbound travel to China has grown immensely, partly thanks to new visa policies. Tourists from countries like Japan, the USA, and South Korea are flocking to Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing, with Harbin also drawing international attention.
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