With city plants tended to, trimmed and pruned, thousands of flags flying and Tiananmen Square glorified, today is the most patriotic of days for the Chinese nation, National Day. The outside world, however, braces itself for Golden Week, given that it is one of two weeks in the year when many travel destinations become overwhelmed with Chinese tourists.
National Day is celebrated on 1 October and immediately after, the nation receives 5 days off, which is known locally as Golden Week.
As the whole country goes on holiday at the same time, this is when we avoid, at all costs, any tourist site in China and driving at all. This is when we stock our homes with food and drink as the streets become deserted. During this time, the nation eats, sleeps, drinks and travels, plays revolutionary movies and songs; and shops shops shops. And that is just for those whom stay domestic.
In 2017, 650 million Chinese travelled between 1 and 8 October, with six million going abroad, according to Ctrip and Nasdaq. In destinations such as Egypt, Africa, New Zealand and Croatia, tourist companies make millions and so do the industries catering for them; the entire supply chain.
This year, 750 million Chinese are expected to travel abroad and by 2025, Chinese outbound tourism is expected to be the largest force, with Chinese spending reaching US$255 billion, according to Coresight Research.
“China’s National Tourism Administration’s survey indicated that 55.5 percent of those Chinese people who were surveyed will travel domestically or overseas during the upcoming Golden Week”, Coresight reported.
Korea, Thailand and Japan are this year the three most popular destinations for most travellers during Golden Week, with the US, Russia and Europe the top three for long-haul flights. Relaxed visa rules, designation and cost have all contributed to making these favourite destinations.
For most foreigners who choose not to travel during this time, however, it is a week of peace, bliss, tranquility and rest. For the cities evacuate, the streets are empty(ish) and the neighbourhoods quiet, save for a few hotspots, such as Fuzimiao (Confucius Temple). Rest easy; this is the perfect time to appreciate your city with calm.