BEIJING / SYDNEY (Reuters) – Iphie Nie, a 30-year-old designer from Beijing who usually travels to visit family in her hometown of Shenzhen during Lunar New Year, like many Chinese, reluctantly decided to don’t book a flight for the middle – February vacation FILE PHOTO: Travelers wait at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, China on January 2 2021. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang To limit the spread of COVID-19, the government has discouraged travel during the normally busiest time of the year. Those leaving anyway must present a nucleic acid test with negative results taken within seven days before returning home, and as a result, air bookings made from January 19 for Lunar New Year trips have plummeted. 73.7% compared to the holiday period. in 2019, according to data from travel analytics firm ForwardKeys provided to Reuters. ForwardKeys did not provide 2020 data, saying the early days of the COVID outbreak skewed the numbers. Bookings were down 57.3% from 2019 on January 1, with the situation deteriorating due to epidemics leading to tighter restrictions. m in a low risk area, people in my hometown would get a little nervous when they found out that I was coming back from Beijing. It’s just too much of a problem, ”said Nie.Beijing has reported new cases of COVID-19 for 11 consecutive days and the number of cases nationwide, though minimal by most standards. Western countries, is at a 10-month high. Businesses or government agencies have been told not to travel without management approval, state media reported. Some people who have already purchased airline tickets are considering canceling. “I’ve already booked a ticket but still haven’t made up my mind,” said Kathy Qi, a 29-year-old office worker in Beijing and from Henan. A report by aeronautical data provider Variflight predicts a reduction of 6 million trips during the Lunar New Year due to the COVID testing requirement and home quarantine rules, with around 50% of travelers likely to cancel. Ticket prices, normally at their peak during the Lunar New Year, have plummeted. As of January 25, airline tickets sold on Qunar.com, a Beijing-based online travel platform, cost an average of 651.36 yuan ($ 100) during the holidays, the lowest level in five years. , the company announced on Monday. Capacity had returned to 2019 levels at the end of last year, when there were hardly any cases, although ticket prices remained low.Luya You, Transportation Analyst at BOCOM International , said the full recovery of Chinese airline revenues to pre-crisis levels would be delayed. in the second or third quarter of this year, compared to its previous valuation in January or February. ForwardKeys said travelers booked their tickets later than usual, with 61% of Chinese doing so within four days of their departure in March and December 2020, up from 52% in 2019. “This is the only statistic that gives some hope for traveling this Chinese New Year, as a rush to last minute bookings is a definite possibility if the recent outbreak is soon under control, ”ForwardKeys spokesperson David T However, Nie, the creator, said she was too concerned about the possibility of increased restrictions to book a last minute ticket home. . “What if I were to be isolated at home for 14 days upon my return?” And I only have 10 days off for the holidays, ”she said. Reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing and Jamie Freed in Sydney. Edited by Gerry Doyle.
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