Travel fervor rises among Shanghai residents as summer vacation nears
Chen Liyang, a Shanghai university student, promptly grabbed an air ticket for Sanya after learning that the resort city in the southern island province of Hainan had eased COVID-19 quarantine rules for travelers from Shanghai.
"It has been too long since I made any trip outside Shanghai, back in February, and no matter where, I will not hesitate flying there," said Chen, a travel buff.
She traveled at least twice every year before the COVID-19 pandemic resurgence disrupted all her travel plans.
"I had been to Sanya many years ago, and still remember the enchanting beach scenery and mouthwatering seafood there," Chen recalled. "Although it is not my top destination, it's still an alluring option for me, particularly after such a long lockdown."
Having bought some hotel coupons during the COVID-19 lockdown, she used them to book accommodation in Sanya. The departure date is July 5.
"I will not make any travel plans, just want to daydream there and enjoy the fun of travel itself with my friends," Chen observed.
Based on the latest policy update by Sanya authorities, only travelers from Shanghai's Jing'an, Baoshan, Minhang and Fengxian districts need to have negative nucleic acid test results from within 48 hours on arrival.
They should also undertake a three-day medical observation where they stay and have another polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the third day of their arrival.
Travelers from elsewhere in Shanghai only need to take a PCR test upon arrival in Sanya and show their green health QR code at the same time.
Chen's travel fervor also signals that a sign of long-awaited light is breaking over Shanghai's bruised tourism industry.
Travel agencies in the eastern metropolis are re-launching a few inter-provincial group tour products as several domestic tourist destinations, including Sanya, ease COVID-19 quarantine rules for travelers from Shanghai.
Market competition is gradually heating up as residents' repressed travel enthusiasm is ignited.
Shanghai Spring Tour announced that it is scheduled to organize a group tour to Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Gansu Province on July 1.
The six-day tour will include the most famous attractions in Gannan, such as the Labrang Monastery, one of the largest temples of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism, and Sangke Grassland.
Overnight after the product hit the shelf, figuratively speaking, there were no seats available for the group tour.
The agency then launched another seven-day group tour with a similar route targeting shutterbugs scheduled for July 4; it was fully reserved within hours.
The period between June and September is the best travel season for Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture due to its mild temperatures and picturesque scenery.
Travelers from Shanghai's low-risk subdistricts or towns can move and travel freely in the autonomous prefecture based on local COVID-19 quarantine policies.
Shanghai Spring Tour said it requires tourists applying for the group tour to provide negative nucleic acid test results within 48 hours before taking flights.
"Travel agencies have been ordered to strictly follow COVID-19 pandemic prevention requirements, from the design of tour products and review of tourists' health status to pandemic control measures during tours and handling of emergencies," Zhou Weihong, deputy general manager of the travel agency, explained.
"We expect the inter-provincial tourism market to accelerate its recovery during the upcoming summer vacation, which will help relieve the pressure on tourism operators," she said.
On Trip.com, a number of group tour products departing from Shanghai to Sanya could be found. The tour packages combine accommodation and transportation and target FIT (free and independent) travelers in Shanghai.
Shanghai, Sanya, Guangzhou, Beijing, Urumqi, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shenzhen are among the top 10 destinations based on the sales of air tickets for the upcoming summer vacation, according to Trip.com.
A robust tourism market recovery is predicted.
"Market confidence is up thanks to the waning pandemic situation in domestic cities," noted Fang Zeqian, a tourism analyst. "The willingness to travel among the young generation and families with children is particularly high as summer vacation approaches."
Sales of admission tickets to domestic tourist attractions soared 44 percent in the first half of this month compared with the same period of May, and the growth was 31 percent for air tickets, according to Tongcheng-eLong, another major online travel operator in China.
It predicts that the number of summer travelers will rebound to over 70 percent of that of 2019, with museums, camping sites, and water amusement parks among some of the most popular options.
Where to go for summer vacation
As tourism restrictions are gradually eased, many places are now welcoming people from low-risk areas of Shanghai.
The Shanghai government said on Tuesday morning that currently there are 10 medium-risks areas in Shanghai spread across Jing'an, Hongkou, Xuhui, Putuo, Minhang, Baoshan and Fengxian districts.
With summer vacation nearing, Shanghai Daily offers a guide on some of the destinations which don't require quarantine. But please check with local subdistricts, health authorities and hotels before you go as policies keep changing.
1) Gannan, Gansu
Gansu was the first province in China to lift the tourism restriction on low-risk areas, and its Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was the first to welcome people from Shanghai.
Gannan is listed by "Chinese National Geography" as one of the 50 places to visit in one's lifetime for its stunning plateau views and rich Tibetan culture. The period between June and September is the best travel season.
People from low-risks areas in Shanghai are now allowed to move freely in Gannan. But they need to have negative nucleic acid test results within 48 hours on arrival. Upon arrival, they need to take a new PCR test, and another test after 24 hours.
2) Sanya, Hainan
Resort paradise Sanya in Hainan is one of the most popular vacation destinations for Shanghai residents.
The city categorizes places with infections as "normal-risk areas," "key-risk areas" and "serious-risk areas." Shanghai's Jing'an, Baoshan, Minhang and Fengxian districts are included in the "normal-risk areas," according to its latest prevention and control policies released on Tuesday.
Under the rules, they are required to have negative PCR test results within 48 hours on arrival. For babies under the age of three, they can use their guardians' reports if they don't have one.
Upon arrival, they need to take a new nucleic acid test which is free. They also need to receive a three-day medical observation where they stay in Sanya, and take another nucleic acid test on the third day of arrival.
For people from other places in Shanghai, a negative PCR test is not mandatory. They just need to take temperature checks, have a nucleic acid test and show their green health QR code and travel code upon arrival.
3) Chengdu, Sichuan
Known as the home of the giant panda and hotpot, Sichuan Province is one of the most popular and attractive destinations for travelers from around the world, with its capital Chengdu a must-see city.
According to the latest pandemic prevention and control report by Sichuan released on Monday, Shanghai's Jing'an and Fengxian districts are listed on the B category for risky areas, meaning seven-day home quarantine is required.
For people from other places in Shanghai, a negative nucleic acid test is not mandatory. They just need to show their green health QR code and travel code upon arrival, and take two PCR tests with an interval of 24 hours. They are allowed to move freely if the first test result returns negative.
Neighboring Zhejiang Province has specified that not everyone from Shanghai needs to undergo quarantine.
According to its latest pandemic prevention and control policies issued on Tuesday, people from Shanghai's 10 medium-risk areas are required to receive seven-day central quarantine and seven-day home quarantine.
People from Hunan Road Subdistrict in Xuhui District, Gonghexin Road Subdistrict and Zhijiang Road W. Subdistrict in Jing'an District, Zhenru Town in Putuo District, Ouyang Road Subdistrict in Hongkou District, Qibao Town in Minhang District, Dachang Town in Baoshan District and Jinhui Town in Fengxian District are required to receive three-day home quarantine.
Travelers from remaining parts of Shanghai have no need for quarantine.
However, specific policies vary a lot in different places in Zhejiang. For instance, its capital Hangzhou requires people from low-risks areas to show negative PCR test results within 48 hours and receive an antigen self-test upon arrival, and it arranges shuttle buses to take passengers from the railway station to their district destination.