Road, rail, air travel heavily decline during the three-day Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday as authorities put curbs to battle Covid-19 outbreak across the Asian country.
The number of journeys taken over China's three-day Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday has tumbled by nearly two-thirds from last year, state media have said, citing data from the transport ministry, as authorities battle outbreaks of Covid-19 across the country.
The decline was worse than expected and comes as analysts warn that the economic cost of keeping infections to a minimum is likely to soar, with sectors like tourism bearing the biggest brunt.
Total trips – including rail, air, waterway and road – reached an estimated 53.78 million over the three-day period beginning on April 3, down 63 percent, the official Economic Daily reported late on Tuesday.
The figure was also about 10 percent lower than 2020, when parts of China were still recovering from the first coronavirus outbreak that began in central China's Wuhan.
Air travel was worst hit, with the total number of flights falling to an estimated 562,000, down 87 percent from a year ago and 54 percent down on 2020. Road journeys fell 53 percent on the year, and were also slightly lower than in 2020.
Millions under full or partial lockdown
China's transport ministry had said on Sunday that it expected road traffic to drop 20 percent and flights to fall 55 percent during the three-day holiday.
Throughout China, local authorities have been restricting traffic and subjecting travellers to strict testing requirements in order to curb an Covid-19 outbreak driven by the more infectious Omicron variant.
Nomura said in a note on Tuesday that around 193 million people are currently subject to full or partial lockdowns in 23 cities across China. The 23 cities account for 13.6 percent of the population and 22 percent of GDP.
"As has been the case over the last two years, the impact of containment measures has been most acute for the service sector and for smaller enterprises," said Michael Hirson, China analyst with the Eurasia Group consultancy, which is tracking the impact of Covid controls on the Chinese economy.
"These segments are critical for China's domestic economy, in particular for employment and thus consumption," he added.