As a signal that the country's tourism market is experiencing a strong recovery, China is estimated to have seen more than double the number of passenger trips made on the first day of the May Day holiday compared to a year earlier.
The Ministry of Transport's preliminary estimate showed that the country handled 56.4 million passenger trips on Saturday as the five-day May Day holiday kicked off, up 111.5 percent year-on-year.
The boom happened after Chinese people increasingly feel at ease due to safety concerns implemented to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
To avoid being infected, many Chinese people chose to follow the government's suggestion to hunker down at home during the Spring Festival travel rush from January to March.
According to the ministry, the estimated number of trips China handled on Saturday has surpassed that made on the first day of the May Day holiday in 2019, which occurred before the pandemic's outbreak.
Roughly 54.6 million passenger trips were made in the country on May 1, 2019.
The projection made by the ministry before this year's May Day holiday showed that 265 million passenger trips are expected to occur from May 1 to May 5, close to the traffic recorded during the same period in 2019.
"The number of vehicles that took to the road on the first day of the holiday is expected to exceed 60 million, a record high," ministry spokesman Sun Wenjian said at a news conference on Thursday.
The ministry's latest estimate showed that 36 million trips were made via roadways on Saturday.
The business growth of travel agencies is in line with the official projection.
Domestic flight bookings, for example, soared since April on qunar.com, an online travel services provider.
In mid-April, the number of single-day flight bookings via the platform hit the highest level since the company was established, said Lan Xiang, a data specialist with the company.
The number of daily ticket bookings for the holiday increased more than 30 percent compared with the same period in 2019, Lan added.
According to China Eastern Airlines, during the May Day holiday, its average daily flight volume will exceed 2,700, compared to 2,650 in the same period of 2019.
Many tourist destinations have rolled out precautionary measures to avoid being overwhelmed.
Beijing's Badaling section of the Great Wall, for example, has capped daily visitors to 75 percent of the maximum capacity during the holiday.
Visitors need to reserve tickets in advance. It has also launched night tours from April 30 to May 4.
The managing authority of West Lake has resorted to an "odd-even" traffic control arrangement during the holiday.
The measure, however, seemed to have failed to fully prevent the lake in the Zhejiang provincial capital of Hangzhou from being overcrowded.
Online videos showed tourists moving about slowly, shoulder to shoulder.
A man was heard shouting, "I regret coming. I want to go back home."
Dai Bin, president of the China Tourism Academy, said in early April that the May Day holiday, together with the Tomb Sweeping holiday in April and the Dragon Boat Festival in June, could be recognized as the turning point of the domestic tourism market that suffered huge losses because of COVID-19.