China shrugging off Covid as tourist bookings soar for Lunar New Year

BEIJING — People in China are overcoming the pandemic and going on a journey, according to preliminary data for the Lunar New Year holiday show.

“Unmet demand is being released as many people flock to scenic spots, watch fireworks and crowd into restaurants and hotels,” Ting Lu, chief China economist at Nomura, said in a report Thursday.

The “exit wave” from China is quickly ending, he said, as official data shows a decline in infections, hospitalizations and deaths. “China is rapidly achieving its herd immunity to Covid as the government estimates that around 80% of the population is already infected with Covid.”

The country saw a spike in Covid infections in December, just as Beijing ended nearly three years of strict contact tracing and border controls. The seven-day Lunar New Year, officially starting on Saturday, is the first major holiday since the lifting of Covid restrictions in China.

Domestically, bed and breakfast bookings have more than doubled from a year ago, and ticket sales for attractions have more than quintupled, according to the agency. data for the first four days of the Lunar New Year.

The travel booking site said that in those four days, bookings for hotels and other travel activities exceeded levels seen in the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

Mainland Chinese also sought to travel abroad.

Flight bookings for trips from the mainland to foreign countries during the first four days of a holiday quadrupled year-over-year, according to, with qualifying hotel bookings doubling.

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However, the mood can change quickly.

The study found that in just a week at the end of December, respondents became significantly more comfortable going out.

“We think this is a very positive sign of sustainability and how quickly consumer confidence will improve,” Imke Wouters, partner at Oliver Wyman, said in a telephone interview earlier this month. “Retail sales are directly related to consumer confidence.”

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