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Travel: China’s Golden Week In The Time Of COVID

Every year from October 1-7, China celebrates its National Day Golden Week as a national celebratory holiday. People begin traveling, stores go on sale, and celebrations pop up everywhere. With the rise of COVID-19, however, travel limitations are being applied and tourists both international and domestic are being more cautious. 

What is Golden Week?

The Golden Week, celebrated annually every October 1-7, is held to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Starting with China’s National Day on October 1, this year’s festivities mark 71 years of Communist Party rule. The name “Golden Week” takes its name from the expression that the comfortable weather and the autumn season is a golden time to travel, hence the increase of travel both domestic and international.

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While China’s Independence Day was on September 21, 1949, October 1 marked the grand ceremony of this declaration in Tiananmen Square. October 1 was declared Chinese National Day a day later. Traditional festivities include military practices and parades at Tiananmen Square, as well as flag-raising ceremonies, firework displays, calligraphy exhibitions, and music performances. Aside from these, the Golden Week features big sales and discounts from shopping centers around the country. 


The Golden Week of 2020 coincided with this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival, extending the holiday by one day to the 8th. It is actually one of two Golden Weeks celebrated in the mainland – this one highlights Chinese National Day, while the other one spotlights the Chinese New Year. It also marks the first major holiday since the country reported that the pandemic has been put under control.


How has COVID affected Golden Week?

With China supposedly having improved conditions from the pandemic, domestic travel is expected to rise for the Golden Week despite lingering fears of the virus. The Business Times reported more bookings from flights and hotels with the lifting of domestic travel restrictions, which is a big contrast to other countries currently dealing with the virus with varying degrees of success. One reason for the increase in travel can be attributed to people sick and tired of staying at home.


Manufacturing has risen, with CNBC reporting China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) for the month of September coming in at 51.5; PMI readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below that signal contraction. Despite a halt in manufacturing earlier this year due to the pandemic, resilient exports and stimulus-led infrastructure expansion helped boost demand, especially in light of the week-long Golden Week holidays.


Cinemas in China have begun reopening, with some movies like $441 million-grossing Chinese historical flick The Eight Hundred, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and the live-action Disney adaptation of Mulan playing in theaters. According to South China Morning Post, animated movie Jiang Ziya: Legend of Deification, co-produced by the production company behind last year’s box office hit Ne Zha, has received ¥80 million in advance ticket sales so far. Jackie Chan’s long-delayed Vanguard and the patriotic anthology film My People, My Homeland are expected to boost sales as well.

Wuhan’s Yellow Crane Tower – Image taken from CGTN


The Chinese government encouraged people to travel domestic instead of internationally to reduce risks and to promote local tourism to assure people that the virus has been kept under control. Where exactly are people going? The surprising answer: Wuhan-—specifically the historic Yellow Crane Tower, according to’s most sought-after tourist sites for the Golden Week holiday. Other sites such as the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors, and Shanghai Disneyland are in demand as well.

Meanwhile, other institutions such as schools encouraged people to still remain at home to be sure, with some universities even reducing their permitted Golden Week vacations for students. With the influx of travelers come worries about social distancing. China’s Culture and Tourism Ministry instructed tourist sites to limit capacity over Golden Week to 75 percent, while maintaining temperature checks and disinfection practices, as well as reservation requirements. Chinoys who intend to fly to China for the Golden Week celebration would have to set aside such plans for now, as most flights between Manila and key cities in the mainland are currently suspended still due to the COVID-19 crisis. In the meantime, you can monitor celebrations and festivities through various portals online. As life seems to be back on track in the mainland, it’s still better safe than sorry.

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