20 Chinese provinces, cities resume tourism operations as epidemic wanes
A tourist takes a picture at Yongding Tower in Beijing, March 25, 2020. /VCG

A tourist takes a picture at Yongding Tower in Beijing, March 25, 2020. /VCG

Some 20 provinces and cities across China, including Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guizhou, have resumed local tourism operations with travel agencies starting to organize trips around neighboring cities as the novel coronavirus outbreak subsides, Beijing Daily reported Wednesday.

China has steadily pushed forward the resumption of work and production in the tourism sector, which has shown signs of recovery since the epidemic leveled off this month.

As of March 16, a total of 3,714 national A-level scenic spots have reopened to the public in China with a resumption rate over 30 percent, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said. 

Over 2,000 tourist sites have resumed their online booking or pre-sale services, with ticket orders soaring at a rate of 100 percent per week, according to China's leading online travel agency Ctrip. South China's Hainan Province, for instance, saw its ticket bookings in March nearly 10 times that of last month and hotel bookings surging 20 times in the past 20 days.

Cao Aizhen was relieved to see tourists to his home county – Wuyuan in east China's Jiangxi Province. Dubbed "China's most beautiful village," the county lures millions of tourists each year, especially in spring when it boasts a sea of canola flowers.

Wuyuan County in east China's Jiangxi Province, March 23, 2020. /VCG Photo

Wuyuan County in east China's Jiangxi Province, March 23, 2020. /VCG Photo

"Last year, it was a challenge for tourists to book a room. However, this year, all of us were caught off guard by the novel coronavirus," said Wu Xiangyang, chairman of a local scenic area. 

Wu also noted that along with the improved epidemic situation, they've seen online bookings start to rebound in the past few days.

The domestic traveling industry takes up a big share in China's economic growth, contributing 10.94 trillion yuan (1.55 trillion U.S. dollars) to the country's GDP and creating 28.25 million jobs last year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

A report published by the China Tourism Academy (CTA) predicted that the industry might see a 56-percent slump in the number of domestic tourists in the first quarter, with the total domestic tourism market revenue expected to be slashed by 20 percent, or 1.18 trillion yuan (170 billion U.S. dollars), in 2020.

But now, things are turning around with multiple indices showing a revival of confidence and willingness to travel. While the industry gears up for post-epidemic opportunities, there are no signs of relaxation in prevention.

Measures such as registration of personal information, regular disinfection, body temperature monitoring and cap on daily visitors are strictly implemented at all tourist attractions to lower the risk of infection.

(With input from Xinhua)