Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Chinese on the move for Spring Festival

 It might be the busiest season in China as hundreds of millions of people are preparing to head home for traditional Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, that falls on Jan. 22 this year.


It might be the busiest season in China as hundreds of millions of people are preparing to head home for traditional Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, that falls on Jan. 22 this year.

The fresh report of severe acute respiratory syndrome cases in the southern province of Guangdong did not scare local people, normigrant workers in the province who are returning to their home provinces during the seven-day national holiday.

Authorities stepped up temperature checks at Guangzhou railway station, capital of Guangdong. The station was the exit for most people leaving the province. Anyone with body temperature higher than 37.5 degrees would be held back for further inspections.

A total of 181 people were sent to fever clinics after being detected at the station between Jan. 5 and Jan 19.

Dr. Huang who served at the station said most of them had a high temperature because they had ran for the train. Only 4 out of181 had a temperature higher than 38 degrees.

In southwest China's Sichuan Province, home for 6.6 million migrant workers, the transport system is straining to cope. The railway station of Chengdu, the provincial capital, expected to see off over 4 million passengers in 40 days around the Spring Festival. And most of them, or about 3 million, were migrant workers going home before the festival and leaving for a job in Guangdong, Beijing, Shanghai or other booming cities after the holiday.

In Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province in east China, the local railway bureau planned temporary short-distance trains between the city and neighboring cities like Shanghai and Ningbo.

Most Chinese will spend the eve of the Spring Festival at home with families at a dining table full with traditional Chinese dishes, like Jiaozi or dumplings for northern Chinese and Yuanxiao or rice balls for southern Chinese.

Some Chinese will go on holiday before or after the Spring Festival. It has become a regular "golden week" for travel agencies and travelers to tour around since China inaugurated the seven-day holiday routine for the Spring Festival, May Day and National Day on October 1.

He Zhiyong, general manager of Shanxi Business International Travel Agency, said registered clients have risen by 50 percent compared with the same period of last year. A chartered plane for a Southeast Asia tour was full and tour groups to Germany, the Republic of Korea, Malta and Egypt had a better number than the previous year.

In the Macao Special Administrative Region, a hot tour destination for people from the mainland, hotel industry observers expected full occupation was likely because of a rising number of tourists from the Chinese mainland.

Star-rated hotels in Macao had a combined capacity of about 9,000 beds and the current booking rate stood at 60-70 percent. Early this month, Guangdong Province, bordering Macao, granted permits to allow people in six more cities in the province to travel to Hong Kong and Macao individually, instead of joining a tour group as previously required.

High occupation expectation pushed hotel prices in Macao up, and the price for a standard room has risen from 500 patacas (about 62 US dollars) to 700 patacas (86.8 US dollars), up 40 percent.

Source: Xinhua

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