BEIJING: Hundreds of millions in China hustled to enjoy their first major national holiday since the country beat its coronavirus outbreak, filling airports and train stations on Thursday.
The Golden Week holiday marks the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and sees an astonishing annual movement of people trying to get home or take holidays.
But this year has added significance, with the crowds filling the concourses pointing to a country rebounding from the outbreak and parading the freedom to travel as a contrast to the rolling lockdowns hitting much of the world.
"Normally, we would take a family holiday abroad... but this year we opted for a staycation instead," said Niu Honglin from Shanghai. Niu booked rooms in a boutique hotel near Shanghai Disneyland but quickly encountered the problem of millions of extra tourists hunting fun at home.
But some have scrapped plans as the virus continues to seed anxiety. Ming Rui, a fashion designer in Beijing, said she cancelled a visit to the coastal city Qingdao after two coronavirus cases were reported there last week.
More than 600 million trips will be taken during the holiday, down 20 percent from a year ago, Ctrip estimated, but they will still force the state railway to lay on 1,000 extra trains a day.
Around 108 million passengers will take trains during the eight-day holidays - around 13.5 million a day. They are likely to bring much-needed spending to far-flung parts of China - last year, travellers spent $9.5 billion during the Golden Week.
Life in the Chinese capital has gradually returned to normal after ghostly scenes of empty roads in January and February, and a second virus outbreak in June.