This week, new year celebrations are kicking off in China - but it is already the second year in a row that the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on the country's biggest festival.
In 2020, Chinese New Year commenced on January 25, right at the beginning of the initial coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. This year, repeated local flare-ups of the disease have caused the country's leadership to put the population on high alert about travel risks again. The Ministry of Transport expects there will be 66 percent fewer trips taken than in 2019, the last regular new year's celebration.
Market analyst ForwardKeys observed similar slumps in travel booking for the New Year holiday period. Out of the seven most popular destinations, Beijing and Guangdong lost the biggest share of bookings - upwards of three quarters. Sichuan and Chongqing still received around 60 percent fewer bookings.