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Get Outta Town (for Spring Festival)

The busiest travel season within China is upon us, with a record 2.98 billion trips expected

The Spring Festival hails the great exodus out of Beijing and other cities, leaving stores closed, businesses understaffed, and Didi taxis increasing in price.

The majority of the people leaving will be going to their hometowns, bearing gifts and hongbao to celebrate the arrival of the Lunar New Year with their families. Xinhua reports that this is the “largest human migration on Earth”, with a record 2.98 billion trips expected to be made during this year’s  春运 (chūnyùn, “spring transport”) period, which started on January 13 and will end on February 21.

A recent report by Ctrip, a leading Chinese online travel agency (OTA), predicts that there will be approximately 123 million trips abroad from China this year. Six million of these will be completed from January 23 to February 2, during the Spring Festival holiday period. Xinhua wrote that trips abroad from China numbered 122 million in 2016. According to Ctrip’s report, based on data from its 250 million users who booked flights and hotels through the platform, the destination where tourists have spent the most money in 2016 are Thailand, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

Chinese travelers have become an important market that tourist destinations around the world are seeking to capture. Ctrip’s report projects that Chinese outbound travelers will spend over five trillion RMB during trips abroad this year, which equals to just over $729 billion USD. This explains why tourist boards and businesses from Spain, Singapore, New York, and others in the global tourist industry are working to improve their attractiveness to the growing number of Chinese going abroad for vacations. The increase in Chinese tourists abroad is generally explained as resulting from the Chinese middle class’s increased income and loosening visa restrictions for Chinese citizens.

If you are one of those making the bittersweet journey during chunyun this year, whether it’s within China or abroad, remember that at least you can boast that you are taking part in the world’s largest human migration.


Cover image from Wikimedia Commons


Malika Baratova is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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