Weather and transportation dampen Chinese New Year Celebration
According to GP Times, travelers who are trying to returning home following their Chinese New Year celebrations are facing some unexpected travel challenges due to the weather and limited transportation modes.
The annual migration of millions of Chinese travelers who travel across the country to visit family and friends for the Spring Fesival break are fighting for room on passenger rail, bus, plane, and highway at the same time. Traveling for the Chinese travelers has resulted in a quagmire for those looking for quick, fast travel home. The transportation issues is also compounded by the weather.
The China News Service says that China’s Central Meteorological Office is predicting heavy rains in the south and crippling snows in the north with many roads in Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning provinces and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region already closed due to inclement weather. On the southern tropical island of Hainan visibility was so limited by fog that ferries were prevented from operating, stranding tens of thousands of vehicles.
The Chinese Spring Festival is one of the largest annual migrations of people in the world. This year’s travel was up over last year, making an already large celebration even more taxing for the country’s travel infrastructure. The Global Times reports that 10.6 million people boarded trains alone this year, an 8% increase over 2017. Known as chunyun in Mandarin, the Spring Festival is the People’s Republic of China’s largest annual holiday and is often an occasion for reunions and long-distance travel.
Schools across China resume coursework on Monday, February 26, giving some a little leeway in getting home, but many travelers, especially workers, are under a lot of pressure to get back as soon as possible. Chinese authorities for their part are urging people to set out on their return trips home early to accommodate for the bad weather conditions and expected delays. This is excellent advice on any journey, expected delays or not on the horizon.
China’s railways have enforced strict baggage checks and identification cards are also checked, making the process of getting on a train that much more tedious.
Of course, all of this represents a boon for travel-related industries like gas stations and restaurants who are the first to profit from the strained trip home. With travel numbers up over last year, the Chinese government also has reason to be happy with this year’s New Year’s Celebration. But at the forefront of every official’s mind is how to improve this situation so that in the future the Spring Festival travels not only break records for the size of the annual migration but also for the efficiency with which people get home.