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China's New Year travel beyond expectations

travel Updated: Feb 01, 2012 18:50 IST
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China has long claimed its annual Lunar New Year holiday period breaks all records when it comes to the amount of people seen moving around the countryside -- and the figures coming in from the 2012 edition are certainly backing the claim. And then some.

This year the Lunar (or Chinese) New Year fell on January 23 while the main holiday period ran from January 22 to 28. It is traditionally a time for Chinese people to head home to banquets and celebrations, to gather with family and with friends.

In short, it is a time to re-connect, and with China's rapid economic growth has come the means to do so easily, whether it be by rail, road or air.

The most commonly estimated figure is that 300 million people took some kind of trip during the week -- but even that can only ever be a guessed-at number.

More solid -- but equally spectacular -- are the figures being reported that can be quantified. The Shanghai Railway Station, for example, told the Xinmin Evening News that 138,500 passengers left its platforms last Saturday as people started to head home, while 970,000 individual trips by air were reported for the same day nation-wide by the country's civil aviation authority.

And the China Daily newspaper has this week provided this fascinating insight into what went on over Lunar New Year 2012.

Chinese New Year (January 22-28) by the numbers ...
Mobile messages sent nationwide: 30 billion
Mobile messages sent in Beijing on Jan 22: 987 million
Train passengers overall: 31.3 million
Trains added on Saturday: 815
Ticket inquiry calls received per shift by Guangzhou Railway employees: 140
Sales recorded in shops and restaurants: 470 billion yuan (56.5 billion euros)
Tourists: 185 million
Tourists in Beijing: 8.27 million
Tourism revenue in Beijing: 3.4 billion yuan (408 million euros)
Increase in tourism numbers in Beijing: 9.3 percent
Tourists in Shanghai: 3.14 million
Tourism revenue in Shanghai: 2.96 billion yuan (356 million euros)
Increase in tourism numbers in Shanghai: 3.2 percent